Augusta Economy

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Augusta ranks high in bad credit

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When it comes to credit, there were more maxed-out cards and missed payments in Augusta than most other cities.

Augusta residents posted an average credit score of 709, ranking the city as the sixth-worst in the nation, according to Experian’s second annual State of Credit listing released Tuesday.

Four Wisconsin cities are among the top 10 communities with the highest average credit score. Georgia is not so lucky, with four cities among the 25 worst credit scores – Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah.

Experian, one of the three predominant credit rating agencies, said the fallout of a weakened economy continues to contribute to major setbacks such as foreclosures and unemployment – factors that drive the rankings and trends for different regions of the country.

“So, you’re just missing more payments than the average in the nation,” explained Maxine Sweet, Experian’s vice president of public education.

Augusta’s ranking in foreclosures is 120th in the nation, according to RealtyTrac. It was as high as 85th in the nation in February.

The metro area’s unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in Sept­ember, a slight improvement from the 9.8 percent seen in August.

“It is not always the highest unemployment or the highest foreclosure rate, but the combination of the two is pretty deadly for most cities. If you have enough people having those catastrophic circumstances, it is going to pull down the scores for everybody,” Sweet said.

Augusta’s score was unchanged from last year, Sweet said, but the average nonmortgage debt came down 2.2 percent. The average person went from $26,784 in car loans, installment loans and credit cards to $26,204, she said.

Wausau, Wis., has the highest score in the country, 789, while Harlingen, Texas, has the lowest, 686. Considering that Experian’s scores go from 501 to 990, that puts all the cities in the average credit range – a C on the grading scale, Sweet said.

“Experian’s State of Credit data shows that we still have a long way to go toward economic prosperity, but that many consumers are taking small steps toward improving their credit and debt management,” said Michele Raneri, Experian’s vice president of analytics.

Sweet said the company puts out the nationwide credit assessment to provide insight into the successes and challenges various regions face, and “we see this as an opportunity to help consumers better understand how credit works so they can make informed, responsible decisions.”

Credit scores

Wausau, Wis., owns the highest average credit score in the nation, 789; Harlingen, Texas, has the lowest, 686. A look at the average credit scores in cities across Georgia and South Carolina:

CITY                          SCORE

Greenville, S.C.             740

Atlanta                           727

Columbus, Ga.               721

Savannah, Ga.               716

Macon, Ga.                    715

Columbia                       714

Myrtle Beach, S.C.        711

Augusta                          709

Source: Experian

Comments (13) Add comment
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yellan
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yellan 10/11/11 - 10:16 pm
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As someone who works in

As someone who works in finance, I would love if the average credit score was 700+. This is considered A Credit. I would also love a decent local paper, but that seems to be declining with credit scores as well.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/11/11 - 10:57 pm
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That's what I thought,

That's what I thought, yellan, regarding credit scores. Local paper, not so much.

sand gnat
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sand gnat 10/12/11 - 12:14 am
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That's ok. Augusta is still

That's ok. Augusta is still ranked in the top ten of cities to live in the country. When you consider the steller county government and board of education, what's the big deal with being in the top ten in the country for low credit scores.

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 10/12/11 - 02:45 am
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(S)and gnat, You are too

(S)and gnat,

You are too funny.

Of course, an unnamed, boosteristic poster may think you're just being insightful.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/12/11 - 06:29 am
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Why does the Chronicle keep

Why does the Chronicle keep holding up my posts? LOL

Why does the Chronicle always print negative stuff about Augusta and never report major expansions on Broad St like the Soy Noodle House moving into a room next door and Sprint Foods opening a store? The downtown business district is booming. You can walk down Broad St at midnight and find many people with credit scores above 750. Try that in Columbia County. The TEE will have a full house every weekend with people with credit scores above 750. Augusta is booming. LOL, LOL.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 10/12/11 - 08:18 am
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LOL RM1! Jim Jacoby doesnt

LOL RM1! Jim Jacoby doesnt build low credit scores...

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 10/12/11 - 08:31 am
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I'm not following this

I'm not following this woman's line of reasoning here. Maxine Sweet, Experian’s vice president of public education, said:

“If you have enough people having those catastrophic circumstances [unemployment and foreclosure – LL], it is going to pull down the scores for everybody,”

How is somebody else's unemployment or foreclosure pulling down my credit score?

dstewartsr
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dstewartsr 10/12/11 - 08:49 am
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"...How is somebody else's

"...How is somebody else's unemployment or foreclosure pulling down my credit score?"

It's not. The scores are aggregate scores for the entire community; you may have an 800, but live in a district where the average is 600. You can still get the 0% financing, but someone building condo's will pay substantially more because of the higher rate of default for the people who will buy them. These figures are relevent to determining the interest rate in general. The sentiment was poorly worded.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/12/11 - 09:19 am
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It's the fallout effect of

It's the fallout effect of foreclosures in your neighborhood.....many closures causes your home to drop in value-should you need to sell you sell at a loss & THAT causes financial hardships.
Some in the Atlanta area have dropped to 1/2 their value just 2 years ago.
The money you thought you would have to pay bills & start over isn't there.. I have witnessed some older folks losing their job-selling at a loss because of necessity & then moving in with kin. No job-no money-no home ....sad for many in todays world.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/12/11 - 09:42 am
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Thank you, Riverman for a

Thank you, Riverman for a great laugh this morning.
Good Morning Seenit, don't get all jealous on me:)

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/12/11 - 09:51 am
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Just watch it WB....just

Just watch it WB....just because you are younger & better looking doesn't give you the right to move in on me....lol..lol...
gotta laugh sometimes--don't we---this is a crazy world we live in today..so much sad-bad news ..terror threats-banks closing--foreclosures--tv news can make you depressed all day...
kinda glad I missed the debate last night...that would depress me for sure.
Christie must know he is in line for VP or something.

shrimp for breakfast
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shrimp for breakfast 10/12/11 - 10:26 am
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Thank goodness I'm not one of

Thank goodness I'm not one of them!

gmt
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gmt 10/12/11 - 10:39 am
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This score average in this

This score average in this story is the Experian scores which run from 501 to 990.

Most people think of the FICO scores which run from 300 and 850.

If the average FICO score in Augusta was 709 that would be great. An average score of 709 on Experian not so good.

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 10/12/11 - 05:32 pm
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Those dadburn Tea Partyers.
Unpublished

Those dadburn Tea Partyers. Just can't loan dem no money. Give dem "occupy Augusta" gang members all de cash dey need. 350 credits score or not.

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 10/12/11 - 06:29 pm
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Those of you who find The
Unpublished

Those of you who find The Augusta Chronicle "too" conservative, the new york times, washington post, atlanta journal-constitution, time, newsweek, huffington post, chicago tribune, miami herald, boston globe and los angeles times are begging for subscribers and like minded left-of-center thinkers. I bet you can get your subscription more than half off of the newsstand price. Have a wonderful day!

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