In a study of the 20 largest major metropolitan areas in the United States, Detroit residents had the lowest average amount of consumer debt: $23,604. Over the last four years, average debt in the economically challenged Michigan city has dropped 7.1%. The other 19 cities in the study all saw increases in their average consumer debt amounts.
On the other end of the spectrum, the study showed that folks in Dallas, Texas had the highest average debt, coming in at $28,240. That amount is 7.8% more than it was in 2010.
Experian, one of the three main credit bureaus that collect consumer credit information from U.S. consumers, analyzed relevant database samples for the study. Information was pulled from February 2014 and September 2010 files. Consumer debt included in the study was comprised of credit card debt, auto loans, personal loans and student loans.
Economists warn that looking only at average debt does not necessarily tell the whole story. Increased debt can be a sign of economic recovery, as borrowing becomes easier and consumers are less reluctant to take on debt, according to Michele Raneri, the Vice President of analytics at Experian. However, she said that Detroit “is showing signs of recovery amid the unemployment and economic pressures the city is experiencing.”
After Detroit, the cities with the lowest average debt were Los Angeles ($24,361), Miami ($24,884), New York City ($25,396) and Boston ($25,413).
Rounding out the top five cities with the highest debt were Houston ($28,105), Washington, D.C. ($27,668), Seattle ($27,279) and Baltimore ($27,271).
Looking at the country as a whole, the average debt per person nationwide increased to $25,927 in 2014, up from $24,678 in 2010.
Minneapolis takes credit score crown
As for the highest and lowest credit scores in the nation, Minneapolis residents increased their average by two points over the last four years, to come in first with an average credit score of 702.
Experian uses the VantageScore credit-scoring model, which ranges from 300 to 850 and is based on payment history, available credit, types of credit utilized and length of credit history.
While Minneapolis had the highest average score, Phoenix saw the biggest credit score boost since 2010. Their average went from 647 to 654.
Nationwide, the average credit score did not change over the last four years. The average score in 2014 was exactly the same as in 2010: 665.