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State scores near top in consumer distress index

ATLANTA — CredAbility, one of the leading nonprofit credit counseling and education agencies in the United States, today released the CredAbility Consumer Distress Index results for the 2010 fourth quarter, and Mississippi posted the second-worst score.

The Index, a quarterly measure that tracks the financial condition of the average U.S. household, found that rising stock prices helped propel growth in consumers’ net worth. But lower scores in three of the index’s other four categories — employment, housing and household budget – drove down the overall index.

The health of household budgets declined each quarter in 2010 and is at the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009.

For the quarter ended December 31, 2010, American households scored a 64.3 on the Index’s 100-point scale, down slightly from 64.4 in the third quarter of 2010. For all of 2010, the index showed a small improvement, moving up from a score of 63.9 in 2009’s fourth quarter.

A score below 70 indicates a state of financial distress. The average U.S. consumer has been in financial distress for 10 consecutive quarters, according to the Index. The last time the index was above 70 was in the second quarter of 2008.

Mississippi’s score is 59.24 percent, second only to Michigan’s 58.83 percent. Mississippi’s score for the fourth quarter 2009 Index was 60.69 percent.

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