U.S. Debt Statistics

 


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Debt in America

  • Average personal debt in the U.S. in 2018 is up to $38,000 excluding mortgages. (Northwestern Mutual)
  • The wages of 4 million American workers are being garnished to pay delinquent consumer debts. (NPR)
  • 77 million Americans have debts in collection accounts. (Washington Post)
  • 50% of women earning around $100,000 fear that they are going to lose everything and end up as bag ladies. (The Female Affect)
  • 60% of women report that their greatest financial priority is “just getting by” or paying off debt. (Trans American Center)
  • The percentage of people carrying $5000 – $25,000 in debt (33%) is almost double the percentage of people who have accumulated the same amount in personal savings (17%). (Northwestern Mutual)
  • 20% of Americans allocate 50% to 100% of their monthly income to debt repayment. 13% of Americans expect to be in debt for the rest of their lives. (Northwestern Mutual)
  • Some analysts estimate that 80% of court-ordered money judgments in America are never collected. (Forbes)
  • For most portfolios, debt buyers did not receive any documents at the time of purchase. (FTC)

Chapter 13 is a pretend solution. I use this term to mean a social program that does not work as intended but is not critiqued or reformed because its flaws are hidden.
Karen M. Porter, UC Irvine School of Law

Mortgage Debt

  • 10 million American families owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth in 2014. (Zillow)
  • Of the $11.74 trillion in total U.S. consumer debt outstanding in December 2014, $8.14 trillion (almost 70%) was mortgage debt. (Nerd Wallet)
  • An investigation of mortgage documents in one Massachusetts county revealed more than 25,000 suspect signatures. (Hope For Women)
  • In one North Carolina county, 74 percent of signatures inspected on mortgage documents were questionable. (Hope For Women)
  • In one Illinois county, a random sample of 60 documents revealed that all 60 – 100 percent – carried robo-signed signatures. (Hope For Women)
  • In late 2014, New York regulators announced that Ocwen Financial had backdated letters to potentially hundreds of thousands of troubled mortgagees. (Wall Street Journal)
  • About 30 percent of black and Hispanic borrowers’ homes in total have gone into foreclosure in the years since the housing market crash, compared with 11 percent of whites’ homes. (Center for Retirement Research)
  • Big banks routinely steered borrowers—disproportionately minorities—who qualified for conventional loans to immensely more profitable subprime mortgages, which carried terms that set up borrowers to fail. (The Consumerist)

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Student Debt

  • In 2015 60% of the 38 million Americans with student debt (22 million in total) were not making payments. (Zero Hedge)
  • In 2013 nearly 50% of recent private school graduates were delinquent on their loans. (St. Louis Fed)
  • Every quarter 250,000 borrowers default on federal student loans. (The Urban Institute)
  • Although the national student loan default rate in 2018 is 10.8%, African American borrowers, students who are parents, and low-income students have higher-than-average default rates, in some cases topping 50%. (Center for American Progress)
  • Between 2005 to 2012, average student loan debt rose by 35%, adjusting for inflation, while the median salary dropped by 2.2%. (Credit.com)
  • The cost of college is rising 8x faster than wages. (Forbes)
  • In 2014 only 65% of recent college graduates was employed. (Business Journal Daily)
  • 51% of the employed graduates were in jobs that did not require a college degree. (Business Journal Daily)
  • In the class of 2014, the average graduate carried a student loan debt of $33,000. (USA Today)
  • In the class of 2015, the average graduate carried a student loan debt of $35,000. (MarketWatch)
  • In the class of 2016, the average graduate carried a student loan debt of $37,000. (Forbes)
  • In the class of 2017, the average graduate carried a student loan debt of $40,000. (Forbes)
  • In the class of 1996, the average graduate carried a student loan debt of only $13,200. This amounts to $21,000 in inflation-adjusted 2017 dollars. (Project on Student Debt)
  • Americans pay more per paycheck on student loans than on groceries. (City Lab)

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Credit Card Debt

  • In 2013 53% of the 105 million Americans with credit cards (55 million in total) could only make the minimum payments. (Federal Reserve)
  • In 2014 more than 93% of credit card lawsuits went unchallenged by debtors. (Huffington Post)

I would say that roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can’t prove the person owes the debt.
Noach Dear, State Civil Court Judge, Brooklyn, NY

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If these statistics sound like you, DebtCleanse can help. Contact Us

Wealth Inequality in America

  • The 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people. (Forbes)
  • The richest 1% of Americans owns more than 40% of the country’s wealth, which is a larger share than it has owned at any time in the last 50 years. (Washington Post)
  • 400 American billionaires have as much wealth as the entire African-American population of the United States, 41 Million people. (Huffington Post)
  • The median liquid wealth for Latino families is $340 and for African-American families it is $200. (Alternet)
  • The median liquid wealth for Latino families and Black families could hit zero by the middle of the century. (Forbes)
  • Half the collective wealth of African-American families was stripped away during the Great Recession. (Institute on Assets and Social Policy)
 
 
 

What has destroyed every previous civilization has been the tendency to the unequal distribution of wealth and power.
Henry George, American Political Economist

  

Medical Debt

  • In 2014 43 million Americans had unpaid medical bills. (Daily Finance)
  • An estimated 1 in 3 Americans report having difficulty paying their medical bills—that is, they have had problems affording medical bills within the past year, or they are gradually paying past bills over time, or they have bills they can’t afford to pay at all. (Kaiser Family Foundation)
  • More than 25% of Americans with health insurance have received a surprise medical bill. (News 4)
  • These surprise bills are often out-of-network physicians not selected by patients (for emergency care, for example), and can result in mark-ups including 2.5 times what Medicare pays, or higher.(Consumer Reports)

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Payday Loans

  • Payday loans are high-cost small loans averaging $350, which typically must be paid in a single payment after two weeks and are designed to create a long-term debt trap. (Responsible Lending)
  • In 2012 8 million Americans had to use payday loans to pay ordinary living expenses. (Pew Charitable Trusts)
  • For about 50 percent of payday loan borrowers, taking a single loan can end up resulting in a series of ten loans. (Consumer Finance Protection Bureau)
  • Borrowers take out an average of eight 18-day loans during the year and are indebted 144 days, paying an average of $520 in fees alone for an initial loan of $375. (Responsible Lending)

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Subprime Auto Loans

  • One in eight used car dealers sold at least one vehicle three or more times. In particular, Buy Here Pay Here used car lots which plague modest neighborhoods often repossess close to a third of the vehicles they sell, and then resell again, repeatedly fleecing consumers. (The Consumerist)
  • A 2014 New York Times investigation featured the story of Rodney Durham, who stopped working in 1991 and was living on Social Security benefits. Nevertheless, his car loan application stated that he earned $35,000 annually working as a technician at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, New York. He says that he told the dealer that he had not worked there for over 30 years. (New York Times)
  • A 2014 $390 million bond issue backed by auto loans made to borrowers who had filed bankruptcy featured interest rates averaging 18.6%. The bonds, issued by Prestige Financial Services, were oversubscribed four times over, meaning that investors would have bought up to $1.5 billion of this debt if available. Most stunningly, Standard & Poor’s rating agency provided a triple A rating to these bonds. (Contra Corner)

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