A new study by Encore Capital Group’s Consumer Credit Research Institute and the Urban Institute finds that thirty-five percent of American adults has a debt—such as a credit card balance, medical, or utility bill—so far past due that the account has been placed in collections. The study reports that these 77 million Americans owed an average of $5,200 in September 2013.
A second report indicates that average total debt in America stood at $53,850 in September 2013, among people with credit files. Average debt among people with mortgages was $209,768, while it was $11,592 for those without mortgages.
“Although household debt is a significant challenge for tens of millions of Americans, it has received surprisingly little attention compared to other financial matters,” said Christopher Trepel, chief scientific officer at Encore Capital Group and managing director of the Consumer Credit Research Institute. “This study establishes a new fact base from which to ask important questions related to consumer financial distress, and advances our understanding of household balance sheets and the spatial patterns of debt holding in the United States.”