The U.S. economy has been sluggish for as long as anyone can remember under President Barack Obama. On the plus side, though, the last several years have been a golden age for debt collectors.
As of this week, over 35 percent of all Americans have bad debts and bills so overdue that some creditor has reported them to a collection agency.
The Urban Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., released the stunning statistic on Tuesday, according to ABC News.
These various unpaid bills faced by tens of millions of Americans come in many forms — home mortgages, student debt, car loans and credit cards as well as abandoned cell phone contracts and never-paid gym memberships.
“Roughly, every third person you pass on the street is going to have debt in collections,” said Urban Institute senior fellow Caroline Ratcliffe, according to ABC. “It can tip employers’ hiring decisions, or whether or not you get that apartment.”
The particulars of the study are that creditors have reported 35.1 percent of Americans with credit histories to debt collectors. As of September 2013, the average owed per awash-in-debt American is $5,178.
Some of the worst cities for delinquency are in Texas. They include San Antonio (where 44.5 percent of the people have bad debt), Dallas (44.3 percent) and Houston (43.7 percent). Las Vegas is also notably awful, with over 50 percent of the locals being chased by the collections industry.
The denizens of these locales could learn a lesson or two from the people of Minneapolis, where just 20.1 percent of the residents face the wrath of creditors.
The percentage of Americans facing debt collection has remained constant since 2009 — the most depressing period of the Great Recession.
In a smidgen of good news, Americans do seem to have gotten their credit card-spending habits largely under control. Just 2.44 of credit card holders are 30 days behind in their payments. The 15-year average is nearly four percent.
The future looks pretty bright for the 140,000 or so people employed in the $50 billion-per-year debt collection industry.
After all, new batches of unemployed and under-employed college graduates are becoming possible collection industry fodder each year.
Career prospects for this year’s crop of newly-minted college graduates have been bleak. Over 80 percent of all graduating seniors had zilch in the way of jobs lined up for their post-campus lives as of April, according to the poll conducted by AfterCollege. (RELATED: Just 17 PERCENT Of College Grads Have Real Jobs Waiting)
This spring, a study from the Pew Research Center found that college graduates who are under 40 years of age and who have accumulated student debt have a median net worth of just $8,700. (RELATED: Student Debt-Laden College Grads Under 40 Have $8,700 Median Net Worth)
Collective student loan debt nationwide is about $1.2 trillion. As of November 2013, cumulative student loan debt owed to the U.S. federal government had increased 463 percent during the Obama presidency. (RELATED: Student Loans Skyrocketed 463 Percent Under Obama)
Earlier this month, Michelle Singletary, a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post, urged recent college graduates to go back home and live with their parents to become better positioned to pay off their debts rapidly. (RELATED: WaPo Advice For Indebted College Grads: 1. Move To Your Parents’ Basement, 2. ???, 3. Have A Career)