Americans' Financial Distress Is Getting Worse AgainAmericans' economic health appears to be edging closer to code red as we head into the holiday season. A report released Thursday showed that the Consumer Distress Index fell sharply in the third quarter, indicating that more of us are falling behind financially.

The quarterly analysis from nonprofit credit counseling agency CredAbility looks at five data points: housing prices, employment rates, credit usage, spending and net worth for the average U.S. household. The index grades economic health on a 100-point scale: Any rating below 70 signals distress. But the latest report showed the national number dropped to 66.7 from 69.2, reversing gains from earlier in the year.

The deteriorating real estate market and the struggle to pay housing expenses, including mortgage payments, hurt the financial health of consumers nationwide in recent months, the index showed. Nor are homeowners alone: Renters too, are having trouble making their monthly payments. Adding pressure to household budgets is the rising cost of household goods, food and gas, which leaves Americans with little discretionary income.

In nine states, including Texas, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, consumers slipped back into financial distress after several quarters at higher levels. Twenty states remain above the distress line, and consumers in North Dakota continue to have the strongest overall fiscal health. Nevada, which had the highest rate of new foreclosures in the last quarter, ranked as the only state at the emergency level for consumer health in the index.

Are you planning to borrow or use credit to pay for holiday shopping?
Yes319 (15.2%)
No1779 (84.8%)

Other data also reflects the economic pain Americans are feeling: The number of mortgage holders who had missed two or more payments rose in the period ending in September, according to credit monitoring agency TransUnion. It also reported that the number of credit card holders who were past due on their bill by 90 days or more was also up slightly, although credit card delinquencies remain at an all-time low overall.

The distress index describes the sobering landscape shoppers face as they try to scrape together holiday budgets. "Unless consumers are willing to borrow, they'll need to scale back their holiday spending," said Mark Cole, chief operating officer of CredAbility.

Catherine New can be reached at catherine.new@huffingtonpost.com.

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Mike

Fed res dollar printing has increased to keep up with US treasury's need for them as debt buyer of last resort. Euro is doing same for their debt but doesn't hold the luxury as world's res currency. Fed exports it's inflation to the world euro can't & WILL hypor inflate to ZERO. Europ will run to the dollar as others trade for gld/slvr. Even with small demand increase gld/slvr price rise outside the fed's ability to keep suprpressed & dollar will start its final fall, world WILL panic & gld/slvr will BE only reserve currency. World fiat monotary system is collapsing & we face deep depression. Got Gold? China & India does, why's that you figure?

December 26 2011 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dwight

The Financial distress is another example of the failure of our education system.. I challenge anyone to identify one school from kindergarden thru High School to identify one program that teaches money management and how to budget.. Matter of fact few if any actually teach any values that espouse personal accountability and integrity.. With this I include many universities...Penn State Comes to mind..

I feel sorry for people who have financial problem.. If the government wants to help people we should focus on educating them not indocrinating them..

November 20 2011 at 7:43 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dwight's comment
savemycountry911

They teach sex education instead.

November 20 2011 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to savemycountry911's comment
Mike

Thats so they know when govt or banksters fk them.

December 26 2011 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
cpo1514

Financial distress getting worse??? Come now... the slide started with the 2006 elections for the Libs control of both houses. With the OhMama immaculation of 2010 (One Big Ass Mistake America) the spending tipped into historic overspend. Now with 53% paying taxes and 47% along for the ride the answer is clear... GO TEA PARTY... send the Socialist to Europe to enjoy the failure

November 20 2011 at 9:53 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to cpo1514's comment
someoneole

GO OWS GO

November 20 2011 at 7:52 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to someoneole's comment
savemycountry911

Translation: Go filthy, anti-American thugs.

November 20 2011 at 10:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down
ThinkUp70

Most of the problem exists with people not taking care of what they earn.

Where is the common sense of knowing what take home pay is, how much the electric, phone, water, etc., bills are for the year and divided by 12 months.

Even educated people cannot figure percentages on mortgages, or vehicles, and it's hard to admit, but our people are up to their necks in debt, because of their own ideas of what is important to them.

November 18 2011 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

What are Supremes Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas doing dining the other day with the very lawyers who will argue against the health care law next year?

November 18 2011 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim's comment
LEE Resolution

they were ...dining, obviously. Your point, professor ?

November 18 2011 at 6:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
nmaccanico

What ignorance or denial the government and private sector exhibit in their knowledge of economics. Many years ago when I was working on my MBA in economics at NYU I lost patience many times with fellow students regarding their ignorance about money. Often, I would take out my wallet and take out a dollar bill and ask - "What is the powerful secret of this dollar bill". The answer I would usually get was - "Huh?". Well people let me tell you the answer. Money, or shall we call it currency, must circulate within an economy. It is that circulation that drives the economic engine. If that currency ceases to circulate because it is held, or damned up, by elements within the economy, the economy will cease to function properly and may even cease to operate. It is like water running down a stream and over a water wheel which turns out work and products. That is all fine until someone upstream decides to build a damn across the path of the stream so that his property can be enriched by all or most of the water, then the water wheel stops turning. So the bottom line is: What can we expect of our economy when the top one percent holds greater than 90 percent of the wealth and does not allow it to "trickle down". What can we expect when our biggest corporations are sitting on huge amounts of wealth and will not invest. What can we expect when our government allows our corporations to leave the United States taking hundreds of thousands of jobs, low and good wage, offshore to foreign countries. So, I guess that in all this time the answer to my question has not been discovered!

November 18 2011 at 12:47 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nmaccanico's comment
jkosters

I like your water wheel analogy. The politicians have gotten us into an antigravity state. China on the other hand seems to be a black hole where cheap labor and no enviromental controls to speak of are ******* the life out of the dollar. Read this wikipedia description of the Social Security Act of 1935. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_(United_States)
The repeal of the Glass Steagal Act 1934.
Carter Glass also was the promoter for the formation of the Fed in 1913.
Read "The Creature from Jykell Island"
We are going to be in an antigravity state for some time before possibly the 3rd worlds start buying our products made competitively and they are forced to provide a better quality of life for their workers.

November 22 2011 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
moore240

REPUBLICANS SOLUTION TO ECONOMY.LETS LAY OFF TEACHERS,POLICEMEN FIREMEN,ETC SO PEOPLE HAVE LESS TO SPEND ON THEIR LOCAL BUSINESSES,AND MAKE EDUCATION HARDER TO GET BY RAISNG THE ADMINISTRATORS PAY,THEY REALLY KNOW THE ANSWERS,THE KOCH BROTHERS NOW OWN OUR COUNTRY.

November 18 2011 at 12:19 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to moore240's comment
magicgary1960

Hey no brainer the States are going broke because of Liberal Incompetence they had no choice!!!

November 18 2011 at 12:45 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to magicgary1960's comment
someoneole

You mean GOP corruption

November 18 2011 at 12:50 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down
tjstieg

Hard time of the year with the Holiday spending coming up. Noone in this country does without anymore if they have plastic to pay for it--just have to worry about it later. Before plastic folks didn't buy unless they had the cash to pay for it.It's very hard on a personal level to make yourself do without when every day you see examples of our congress and president spending, spending, spending. If our elected representatives can apparently spend without limit, why can't I?

November 18 2011 at 11:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
tjstieg

Hard time of the year with the Holiday spending coming up. Noone in this country does without anymore if they have plastic to pay for it--just have to worry about it later. Before plastic folks didn't buy unless they had the cash to pay for it.It's very hard on a personal level to make yourself do without when every day you see examples of our congress and president spending, spending, spending. If our elected representatives can apparently spend without limit, why can't I?

November 18 2011 at 11:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tjstieg's comment
PsychedelicSpell

Put the plastic away. You are not of the uber elite in either party. No one has your back but you.

November 18 2011 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
someoneole

darkcloudcoward3

the PC term as your types like is Mentally Challenged. I guess I hit your skitz last nerve huh Evan ?

What have you been drinking? and are you all there?

November 18 2011 at 11:45 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
PsychedelicSpell

The high cost of gas and food has really chipped away at what little spendable cash there is. With all this distraction diversion and drama. The high cost of gas that dominated the news in 2008 is now mute.
Everything that uses petroleum products whether in manufacturing or for transport has sky rocketed too. Nary a word about the cost of gas in 2011.
Just we seem to be in distress. Most are that live within a buget.

November 18 2011 at 11:43 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply