Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Debt Load

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 1:04 PM

Forbes magazine certainly has a way with data. They've analyzed cities for most miserable (I think we all remember that one), emptiest, smartest, etc.

In their most recent geographical take, they've looked to see which cities are the worst for credit card debt.

They took the overall credit card debt for the country's 50 largest metropolises and then divided it by the number of households in that area to give them the average credit card debt per household. Then they took that number and compared it to the area's median household income.

I'll spare you the suspense — Memphis didn't make the list — but it isn't pretty.

In "top-ranked" Miami, the average credit card debt per household is $9,797 and the median household income is $43,333, meaning that more than 22 percent of income is owed to credit card companies. Ouch.

In fact, Florida dominated the rankings. Tampa and Jackson came in second and fourth (L.A. was the only non-Florida city to break the top five). In Orlando, the fifth city on the list, the median income is just over $50,000 a year, and the average credit card debt is $8,233.

Other cities on the list, which to be fair, only looked at the 50 largest metro areas, included Houston, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Austin, Charlotte, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Sacramento, and San Antonio.

The scary part is perhaps how much debt even the lower-ranked cities had. Take Houston, for example, the last city on Forbes' list.

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In Houston, the average credit card debt is $7,303. Sure, its median household income is a little higher than Miami's (it's $53,715), but we're still talking about more than $7,000 per household. For a city that encompasses more than 2.2 million people, 2-3 people per household, that's about 880,000 households, and that's roughly $6 billion. For Houston.

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