Debt Plagues More Than One-Third Of U.S.

  • March 3, 2010
About 36% of Americans claim to have had trouble paying their bills in the past two years. Of those adults, less than four in 10 sought help from a lender or credit consolidation agency to try to modify their loans, according to Chicago-based Mintel.

Women struggled with their debt more than men with 39% saying they had trouble during the last two years compared to 33% of men. People ages 25-44 and African-American respondents also reported more difficulty than the general population (42% of respondents ages 25-34, 48% of respondents 35-44 and 53% of African Americans). In addition, adults living in urban and rural areas were more likely to struggle when compared to those living in suburban areas.

Less than half of those in trouble with debt reached out for help (37%). Going directly to their credit card or mortgage lender was the most common avenue: 28% of respondents said they went to their credit card-issuing bank, while 24% went to their mortgage lender to seek help. Still, more than one-third sought assistance from a credit counseling or debt consolidation service. Those who sought help with debt did so for credit card loans (50% of survey respondents). Mortgage debt was the second most common at 36%.

When asked which loan they'd pay if they could afford only one, most respondents said their mortgage (48%), instead of credit cards (17%) or auto loans (13%).--Tanya Irwin



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