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Mississippi’s credit-card debt on rise even in strong economy

By JACK WEATHERLY

Credit-card debt is at its highest point in the United States since the severe recession that ended at the end of 2008, according to WalletHub.

American consumers started 2018 owing more than $1 trillion in credit-card debt and added another $67 billion, the personal finance website reported, citing data from the Federal Reserve and TransUnion, a credit reporting agency.

“It’s not a question of whether consumers are weakening financially. It’s a matter of how long our overdependence on credit card debt will last and just how bad it will get,” wrote report author Alina Comoreanu.

The national economy flirted with a 3 percent growth in 2018, the highest since the 2007-’08 recession.

The average card debt per household at the end of 2018 was $8,788, up 3 percent over 2017, according to the report.

Twenty-five hundred cities were surveyed and ranked from the 99th to the 1st percentile.

Given the trend, “it’s best to be ranked in the 99th percentile, because those are the cities with the biggest credit card debt paydowns,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez wrote in an email in response to a question by the Mississippi Business Journal.

“The 99th percentile reflects the highest amounts of credit card debt actually paid down per household.

“However, the biggest paydown doesn’t necessarily mean the greatest debt burden. For example, West Lafayette [Ind.] has the biggest paydown, at $3,128, and a credit card debt of $13,200 per household. The highest household credit card debt amount is $30,000 in Ewa Beach, [Hawaii], whose residents recorded an increase of $2,805.”

Southaven is the highest-ranked Mississippi city. In the 86th percentile, its average household debt at the end of the year was $10,857, an increase of $678.

Jackson ranked in the 51st group, with average debt load of $10,090, an increase of $195.

Madison and Oxford were both in the 39th percentile, with the debt for the former $15,294, up $407 and the latter $12,173, an increase of $409.

Ridgeland, neighbor to Madison as in the 10th percentile at $11,927, an increase of $1,271.

Greenwood ranked in the 3rd percentile with an average household debt of $9,658, an increase of $1,919.

Germantown, Tenn., with whom Madison is often compared, likewise was in the 3rd percentile, with a debt load of $18,584, up $2,036.

Here is the list of Mississippi cities ranked by debt load alone.

Madison leads the state in average household credit-card debt of $15,294; followed by Hernando, with $12,909; Olive Branch, $12,705; Lucedale, $12,619; Hattiesburg, $12,359; Oxford, $12,173; Ridgeland, $11,927; Tupelo, $11,135; Southaven, $10,857; Corinth, $10,077; Jackson, $10,090; Brookhaven, $10,046; Vicksburg, $9,801; Meridian, $9,639; Laurel, $9,562, and Picayune, $9,556.

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About Jack Weatherly