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New Debt Numbers Released Include Western Massachusetts

new-york-liberty-credit-cardSPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — A new study conducted by the Urban Institute estimates about 77 million Americans are 30 days or more past due on their bills, including many in western Massachusetts. The study is based off of 2013 credit bureau information and broke down trends on a nationwide level.

“Unproductive debt or bad debt is like charging clothes and I suppose charging food,” Springfield Partners For Community Action credit counselor Stephen Plummer said. “Anything that is not helping you build your own personal net worth.”

According to the Urban Institute non-mortgage study, 5.3% of people in Springfield are 30 or more days past due on their bills, and over 26% find themselves 90-180 days overdue and being hassled by debt collectors. Nationally, about 35% of people are in the 90-180 delinquency period.

“It would take on average $2,000 to get caught up. That’s a pretty big number,” Plummer said. “Those that have collection accounts. It would take them like $5,000 to get caught up which probably means that your average consumer would have a hard time getting caught up.”

While New England’s debt numbers generally fare better than national stats, the national numbers have not improved since 2004.

“What that means is that even though we are told the economy is snapping out of it, consumers are not really seeing the benefit of that,” Plummer said.

All that is, in turn, contributing to the economy. Plummer says the study is a reminder of why it’s important to try to save debt-creating purchases for things like a new home or car as much as possible.

The study did not include roughly 22 million people that do not have credit at all.


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