Utah’s share of debt in collections is lower than the national average, except when it comes to nonwhite residents.
A new report from the Urban Institute broke down the country’s past-due debt by state, city and county levels.
The report identified debt in collections as “past-due credit lines that have been closed and charged-off on their books as well as unpaid bills reported to the credit bureaus that the creditor is attempting to collect,” according to the report, which collected data "derived from a random sample of deidentified, consumer-level records from a major credit bureau, as well as estimates from summary tables of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey."
The study broke down the numbers by white and nonwhite Americans, “who are African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native, another race, or multiracial,” the report said.
Nationally, 33 percent of people have debt in collections. About 27 percent of white and 45 percent of nonwhite residents have debt past due.
In Utah, 25 percent of residents (and 23 percent of whites) have debt in collections, which are both numbers below the national average. However, 47 percent of nonwhite people in Utah have past-due debt, which is higher than the national average.
A look at the debt in collections of these groups shows that 30 percent of nonwhite Utahns have medical bills past due, compared to 16 percent of white people.
Nonwhites have on average $972 in medical debt in collections, compared to $865 for whites in Utah.
A report last month found that the average Utahn may need 20 years to pay off credit card debt, as most Beehive State residents stick to paying the monthly payment for their credit cards, according to the Deseret News.
The same report ranked Utah as the 27th in the nation for credit card debt per capita, with each residents having $2,750 in credit card debt. A separate report from LendEDU ranked Utah as the 31st worst state for credit card debt, saying each person owed $4,982 on average.
The University of Utah personal money management director Ann House told the Deseret News that Utahns need to make better financial decisions.
"We're just not as savvy as we should be as far as credit cards go," House said. "While we've made progress on our bankruptcy rates, we're still a state carrying too much debt."