September 22, 2010

Experian Study Identifies Cities With Highest, Lowest Credit Scores

Recession and unemployment are common factors for low scores

Minneapolis leads other cities in the highest credit scores, but Wisconsin cities dominated the top 10. In a report released Wednesday by Experian on cities with the highest and lowest credit scores, Minneapolis topped the list with an average score of 787, but three Wisconsin cities made the top 10: Madison (785), Green Bay (780), and La Crosse (778).

Texas cities had the worst credit scores, though Louisiana fared only slightly better. Harlingen, Texas had the lowest average score at 684, although Corpus Christi (700) and Tyler (709) both made the top - or bottom - 10. Two cities in Louisiana, Shreveport (701) and Monroe (706), made the list.

The full list is available as in interactive map at www.livecreditsmart.com.

Experian noted that poor credit can't be blamed on one factor, but Peg Smith, executive vice president of Experian, pointed to the recession as a common cause.

"Late payments and delinquencies such as foreclosures drive lower credit scores, and the State of Credit data shows that unemployment has been a major factor in contributing to higher delinquencies," she said in a press release. "Certainly anyone who has lost a job understands how such a life event could affect their ability to pay their bills on time."

In Harlingen, Texas, the city with the lowest average credit score, just half of citizens 16 and over are in the labor force, according the Census Bureau. In Minneapolis, where credit scores are highest, nearly 73% of the population is in the labor force. The unemployment rate for Minnesota in August 2010 was 7%, compared to the national rate of 9.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Texas, the unemployment rate was 8.3%.

An August poll from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that over half of respondents had taken steps to reduce their debt. Ten percent of respondents in that survey said they had begun reviewing the credit reports as a way to improve their financial situation.

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