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Kentucky’s credit card debt is good news and bad news, according to report

A new report on credit card debt by a credit monitoring firm ranks states according to a variety of factors. See how Kentucky ranks.
A new report on credit card debt by a credit monitoring firm ranks states according to a variety of factors. See how Kentucky ranks. AP

Kentucky was among the states where credit card debt increased the least last year, according to a report released Thursday by Experian, the credit monitoring firm.

Credit card debt increased by 4.77 percent in Kentucky, the report noted. Florida led the nation with a 9.23 percent increase.

One possible explanation for such a modest increase is that Kentuckians have maxed out their credit card limits and are now in the process of paying them down, according to Ken Troske, an economics professor at the University of Kentucky.

But don’t rejoice for frugal Kentucky just yet: Another Experian report tags Kentucky as the state with the third highest rate of new credit cards — a 19.8 percent increase. The only other states where residents got more plastic during the last year were South Dakota and North Carolina.

Other states with low increases in credit card debt relative to other states included Maine, Vermont and Wisconsin. Florida, Nevada and Georgia were among the states where credit card debt increased by the greatest amount relative to other states.

Kentucky’s residents were tagged with an average credit card debt of $5,555, according to an earlier Experian survey on where credit cards are used the most.

Alaska residents heated up the plastic the most, with an average balance of $8,515.

Kentucky’s average annual income is $45,659, according to the 2016 U.S. Census. Approximately 950,000 of the state’s 4.45 million people receive some sort of Social Security benefit, including disability.

Kentucky’s rate of poverty is the nation’s third highest at 18.5 percent, eclipsed only by Louisiana and Mississippi, according to figures from the Census. The poverty level is defined as annual income of $24,600 for a family of four.

Among generations, Generation X carries $7,750 in credit card debt, leading all other generations — the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (also known as the Millennials, born in the 1980s and up to the mid-1990s) and Generation Z (mid-1990s and 2000s). Millennials carried $4,315 in credit card debt, according to Experian.

Those figures do not take into account separate retail cards, which may be issued by stores or service providers.

Overall, the nation has adopted a healthier savings stance than it had before the financial crisis of 2008, Troske said: “We’re in a better place.”

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