Jackson can be thankful for Harlingen, Texas.
Without Harlingen, the Mississippi capital would have the nation’s worst Experian credit score.
The credit reporting bureau gives Harlingen a national low of 686 and Jackson a second place 701, based on the credit history of residents. Corpus Christi, Texas, is knocking at the door of second-place, with a score of 702.
The debt load of Jacksonians is going up (0.6 percent since 2010) at about the same average as their late payments (0.68 percent), Experian says.
The key elements of the score are the average debt of the city’s residents and their rate of late payments, the credit bureau notes.
Jackson’s average debt is $25,588, a 0.6 percent increase from 2010 and an 8.1 percent increase from 2007.
Unemployment levels are also a factor, Experian says.
Jackson gets a “C” in the VantageScore, a creditworthiness grading system used by lenders and developed cooperatively by Experian and the other national credit reporting companies. But with a “C” on the VantageScore ranging from 700 to 799, Jackson’s 701 is a two-point drop from a “D” grade.
Harlingen, suffering from an unemployment rate close to 13 percent, is the lone city with a score below 700. The top credit score went to Wausau, Wis., with a 789, followed by Minneapolis with 787.
It’s no secret that Mississippians have been prone to delinquent payments on home mortgages for some time, having frequently been among the top states for late mortgage payments in quarterly surveys by the Mortgage Bankers Association.
On the other hand, Mississippi has a middle ranking nationally (25th in the second quarter) for foreclosures, according to Marianne Hill, senior economist for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.
“Apparently, people just pay later here than in other states,” she said at an economic presentation earlier this month