Despite relative job growth, the American economy continues to struggle as more people see mounting debt levels. While the good news is that Americans seem to be getting better at paying down credit card debt as we distance ourselves from the 2009 recession, the bad news is that more people are going into debt. As we look at the state of American credit card debt, we get a fuller picture.
One of the ways in which we can get a more accurate picture of credit card debt is to look at it in relation to wages of American workers. While a recent press release from the Bureau of Labor Statics remarked on a three percent increase in weekly regular wages for full-time working Americans in the first quarter of 2014, its relation to credit card debt is less encouraging. We know this based on a recent article from investment news site MunKnee.com that credit card debt has exceeded wage growth in the United States for the first time since the Great Recession.
The article makes it clear that this is an unsustainable situation. A telling study released by the Urban Institute stated that more than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies.
This study points out that although the country as a whole has whittled down the size of its credit card debt since the official end of the Great Recession, the share of Americans in collections has remained relatively constant. Health care-related bills and student loan debt represent more than 50 percent of this debt collectively, while credit card debt accounts for an additional 10.1 percent. The rest of the collections are for local governments, retailers, telecoms and utilities.
Experts agree that factors contributing to this debt profile are low paying jobs coupled with scant financial education. In addition, many of these people are retirees on fixed incomes that struggle to pay medical and multiple medication bills.
Ultimately, unforeseen financial challenges coupled with growing inflation and potentially slow growth in wages can lead anyone to unsustainable credit card debt. What will always be true is that seeking education on managing debt along with outreach to creditors to devise workable solutions is always the best course of action.
Lex Patterson joined the DAKCS team in 1988. In 2006, he was named President and has worked to cultivate new markets, enhance product offerings, connect people, cut costs, and further DAKCS’ legacy of delivering astonishing customer service. He has a deep interest in technology and the ARM business, but understands that the relationships developed through interaction with people are really how business gets done. An avid fly fisherman, photographer and motorcycle enthusiast, Lex enjoys the great Utah outdoors.