This Is Where America's Most Debt-Burdened People Live

Americans have racked up almost $13 trillion in personal debt for things like mortgages, car notes and student loans. $13 trillion is such an enormous pile of money, it’s hard to imagine what that looks like across the country. So,  created a new map to figure out exactly what’s going on...




GOBankingRates recently conducted a survey in which they asked Americans how much debt they had. This included things like a mortgage, credit card debt, student loans, car notes and medical bills—basically every major category of debt. They broke the respondents down by state to calculate an average total debt load, which we then mapped across the country. As one can see, people living in states colored dark red and pink have higher debt burdens (as much as $500k) compared to light and dark blue, where the debt load is less than $50k.

Hawaiians have by far the highest debt, averaging $869,250. This makes sense considering the Aloha State’s location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the fact that our numbers take into consideration mortgages. There’s only so much land someone can buy before demand outstrips supply and drives up price (the new land constantly created by volcanoes notwithstanding). People with the second highest debt burden live in Maryland ($284,851), but that’s almost four times as small as Hawaii. Further down the list, there are some obvious clusters of states, with five states surpassing $100k and an additional six between $50k-$100k. The rest all have lower debt levels.

There really isn’t a clear pattern on the map: there are low-debt states sitting right next to high-debt states.

The lowest debt-burdened people live in Washington, DC ($1,611), followed closely by Alaskans ($2,286). What could these places possibly have in common? The one exception can be found in the Deep South, where a cluster of blue and dark blue states all group together. Louisianans have the third lowest debt burden in the country, averaging only $6,140 per person. Other than that, personal debt levels swing wildly from state to state.

Here’s the key insight. A few different factors explain the wide-ranging differences. For example, people living in New York City probably don’t own a car, and many still rent an apartment. Compare that to Texas and Oklahoma, where most people own a home in the suburbs from which they commute to work in vehicle they also own. Simply, put, lifestyle choices go a long way in determining debt levels. Not only that, there are good kinds of debt that build equity—like paying a mortgage—and add to overall net worth. Having very little debt is great if you consistently save money.

Top 10 States Where People Have the Most Debt

1. Hawaii: $869,250

2. Maryland: $284,851

3. Texas: $185,584

4. Oklahoma: $174,839

5. Indiana: $166,844

6. Nevada: $165,740

7. Minnesota: $113,455

8. Illinois: $98,309

9. Maine: $91,183

10. Virginia: $81,194

All of this suggests that average debt depends more on an individual’s choices than where he or she lives. People can achieve extremely low debt levels if they are in expensive urban areas or rural towns. If both the bureaucrats in Washington, DC and frontiersmen in Alaska can do it, then we bet you can too.


Txpl9421 Fri, 12/29/2017 - 20:49 Permalink

The debt someone carries has to be related to a bunch of things.  In DC the people not running he country are dirt poor.  No job, no debt.

In Texas, if you are making $250,000 a year you can handle a $750,000 mortgage.

Its an interesting chart, but without context or a "income to debt ratio" its meaningless.


Endgame Napoleon HockeyFool Sat, 12/30/2017 - 09:07 Permalink

That would make sense if many of the rich had not acquired their riches either by passive inheritance or by offshoring millions of jobs to countries with low-cost labor and, in the USA, reducing their labor cost by hiring a bunch of part-time, temporary, high-turnover and 1099-gig workers. It would make sense if the rich were not reducing their labor costs by hiring mostly illegal immigrants and other workers, like moms, who do not need higher wages due to pay-per-birth welfare (free housing, free EBT groceries, etc. and refundable child tax credits between $3,468 & $6,444, even before the new tax-welfare infusion for citizen and immigrant parents). 

It would make sense if they restricted the tax cut to rich people who will invest in something other than global stock buybacks and other family wealth-building vessels that do not create jobs, here in America. 

The womb-productive crowd of often part-time citizen and non-citizen workers is among the small percentage of low-income, middle and upper-middle income earners who get thousands more in a tax cut / refundable tax-welfare handout to spend on whatever they want.

Most of this windfall tax cut / tax-welfare money will not be spend on kids and is being given to moms, working part time to stay below the low, earned-income limit for welfare or, at higher income levels, working just a few hours to supplement the often ample income of a spouse.

This tax plan gives part-time-worker moms who drive wages and hours down for Americans with earned-only income more luxury money to revamp a kitchen or to take a trip. God knows, all the moms (and dads) can take off from work any time they want and frequently without getting fired. They have plenty of time off to spend their Trump tax cut / tax-welfare check. 

Maybe, these womb-productive part-time employees will pay down some debt with their tax cut / tax welfare. These parents are more likely to spend it and rack up more debt with it: more Ashley master bedroom sets, more zero-down cars, more $800 tattoos, more trips to Florida to copulate with a boyfriend. Grandma is more than willing to keep the kids, and mom-gang workers can take long stretches off from work with no problem in their discriminatory, back-watching gangs of jobs that are “voted best place to work for moms.”

The rest of America is getting $24 per paycheck, which will not cover the hundreds per month that rent has gone up in the last few years. Rent takes more than half of the earned-only income of many Americans, and The Swamp is doing nothing about it.

What wealthy Swampians @ $175k are doing is feathering the nests of their families, their wealthy donors and their DNA dynasties, heedless of what it means for the country. Except for the fact that they must sell it to an electorate that increasingly does not bother to vote, it is no different than what aristocracies used to do in the days before democracy was widespread.

They sell their tax cut for the rich, including the rich non-job creators and job creators in foreign countries, putting a baby bow on it, saying it is for “working families.”

They do not mention the fact that these are mostly either part-time worker single moms, with all major household bills, including unaffordable rent, subsidized by government. They are immigrant households with US-born kids and a sole, male breadwinner whose traceable income falls below the earned-income limit for welfare. They are married moms, helping to concentrate the few decent-paying jobs in fewer households and thereby reducing the size of the middle class by half. Or they are married moms working part time, cause hubby makes plenty. But mom still takes a job out of the economy, leaving work constantly, with phones ringing off the hook with paying customers, and getting away with it in her back-watching mom gang. 

They are doing this in a county where, due to assortative mating and other factors, wealth from salaried jobs is already so concentrated, and where the organs of government are so bought-and-paid-for by the super-rich that you can hardly see the outline of the Republic anymore.

They are doing it, recklessly, in a country trillions in debt. 

They think they can trick all the people with meager incomes who have paid into SS and Medicare for decades on every penny at either 7.65% or 15.3% for the self employed, while Swampians only pay 7.65% up to the $127,200 cap. 

After crashing a national economy that is already massively in debt, they plan to balance the budget by cutting the only programs that all citizens get because they paid into them and never stop paying into them. Medicare is never free; recipients pay hundreds each month in premiums.

These refundable tax welfare and monthly welfare handouts, paying citizens and immigrants who work part time to have sex and reproduce, are FREE

Disgusting—disgusting and transparent.

Throw the vast majority of peasants $24 worth of cake, destroying programs they are forced to pay into all their working lives, and they won’t notice any of it. 

How colossally cynical.

Put a baby bow on it. So cute. All for baby. 

In reply to by HockeyFool

vic and blood Big Creek Rising Sat, 12/30/2017 - 14:34 Permalink

It appears that you missed the gist of Napoleon's rant.

He rails against the socialist programs that actually cause greater disparity and damage the fabric of society and is bitter about weakened programs that actually benefitted society. Your black and white vision only sees either commies or virtuous capitalists. It may be you who needs therapy to see shades of gray.



In reply to by Big Creek Rising

techengineer HockeyFool Sat, 12/30/2017 - 12:07 Permalink

Because they have reaped the benefits of the FEDS bailouts, QE and crony capitalism..


Bad mistake by the GOP to reward 1%s..  I hope we can overcome it but society is coming apart at the seems as a result of income inequality among other things.. People can't live on the streets in tents while 1% make millions in the stock market off of FED produced debt to the detriment of working class individuals and then these very same people who have gotten richer off the FED tits are given tax breaks.


Disgusting. People should be executed as a result of this heinous act.


In reply to by HockeyFool

Moe Howard pippi68 Sat, 12/30/2017 - 03:03 Permalink

Yes, everybody seems to forget that a wino on skid row who panhandles a dollar has one dollar in assets and zero debt, zero obligations.

The wino's net worth is one dollar.

Compare that to most people. He is richer than most people around me.


Personally, I have been debt free for many years now. I have been a relatively low earner compared to the number thrown around here, yet was able to pay off my mortgage of 15 years in 7. I have paid cash for my last couple of cars. Taxes, insurance etc come due, I paid cash for the year. It's not how much your earn in many cases, it's how you handle the money.

In reply to by pippi68

RTUT Moe Howard Sat, 12/30/2017 - 10:20 Permalink

I never thought being a 'wino' could be so great!  


On a serious note, I agree.  Years ago I read an article about wealthy vs poor and how each handled their finances.  It was enlightening.  Though 'wealthy' individuals often did not have the super high incomes they became wealthy by the 'choices' they made, living within their means and making their savings/money work for them.

In reply to by Moe Howard

Whatta HRClinton Sat, 12/30/2017 - 09:29 Permalink

in TX more own property and don't have to rent shithole apartments like in CA.

So, taking a mortgage and owning (debt) in TX, vs living and defecating on the streets in CA because you can't afford a $1M 400sf "starter" home? The debt doesn't tell anything of the real story.

Tell me which state is losing people and which state is gaining people.

In reply to by HRClinton

swmnguy Txpl9421 Sat, 12/30/2017 - 11:11 Permalink

I've seen this information presented differently.  In Minnesota, the debt is college loans and home mortgages.  And a debt load of $113,455 is not unduly burdensome in an area with above-median income.  I've always gone to great lengths to not have any debt whatsoever, but it's not possible for most people in our overly-financialized economy, where a college degree is required for receptionist positions.

This chart is interesting, but as you say, should be accompanied by an income-to-debt chart, a chart of consumer income ex-mortgage and student loans, rate of debt in collection, and other angles on the issue to give context.

In reply to by Txpl9421

new game swmnguy Sat, 12/30/2017 - 11:29 Permalink

jobs are here. but -15 this morning. the twin cities is booming with commercial and residential construction. a hotbed of growth from low interest financing. if you can tolerate mosquitoes in the summer and frostbite in the winter welcome to libtard snota. top schools, education and medical care. mostly safe everywhere. beautiful lakes and state forests. but that fuking cold and wind...

In reply to by swmnguy

Its Time To Go… Txpl9421 Sat, 12/30/2017 - 18:04 Permalink

Txpl9421,  100% agree.  The map should be by county.  SoCal and SFO, Palo Alto, probably make up 80% of that debt.  Poor folks in Sacramento, Weed, Arcadia, Kern county, etc, have very little debt.  And having a lot of Mexican friends in the 'blue collar' world, I know they have no debt and actually spend all their money just before Friday's paycheck.  It's a cultural thing I guess.

This "map" is very misleading.  

In reply to by Txpl9421

techpriest Pernicious Gol… Sat, 12/30/2017 - 00:58 Permalink

I'll admit to not setting foot in one, and was saying it more as an expression of paying to not exercise, then paying to exercise. The last gym I was a member of ran $30 a month. My wife has spoken on nutrition at higher-end gyms which charge in the low hundreds per month.

I would agree that it can be cheaper than buying your own equipment, but unless you are very high income and you need to save time on chores, while working with a personal trainer, I don't see the need to pay on both sides. Or maybe I just get a rush out of pulling my own weeds and knowing every square inch of my property by getting my hands in it.

In reply to by Pernicious Gol…

Old and Tired Fri, 12/29/2017 - 20:56 Permalink

I'm in Missouri and I can tell you James Turk sucks donkey dicks. I've had it with his predictions and he and Erick King can go to hell.

I feel much better now.

Old and Tired Fri, 12/29/2017 - 20:56 Permalink

I'm in Missouri and I can tell you James Turk sucks donkey dicks. I've had it with his predictions and he and Erick King can go to hell.

I feel much better now.