The Healthiest and Unhealthiest States for Savings and Debt

Americans are saving as little as ever in a dozen years—while taking on record amounts of credit card debt—as a heady stock market and an accelerating economy boost consumer confidence and spending.

The personal savings rate dipped to 2.4% in December 2017, the lowest level since September 2005 and just a half-point off the all-time low of 1.9% reached in July 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. At the same time, Americans are carrying $1.023 trillion in high-cost revolving debt as of November 2017, surpassing the previous high-water mark of $1.021 trillion set in April 2008.

But savings and debt habits differ depending on the state where you live, according to a new analysis from ValuePenguin.

To gauge the savings health of each state, we looked at each state’s participation rate in both savings accounts and retirement accounts along with the average amount saved in each type of account. We also ranked each state’s debt health by considering the percentage of households that carried credit card debt, the average amount of that debt, and the percentage of credit accounts that were past due by 90 days or more.

Only one state—Massachusetts—breaks into the top 10 for both savings and debt health. Three states—Alaska, Maryland and Colorado—all ranked in the top 10 for savings health, but fell in the bottom 10 for unhealthy debt. Alaska has the interesting distinction of being the healthiest savings state, but the unhealthiest debt state.

Here’s the breakdown using a heat map for savings and debt health. We’ve also included some key details on each of the top and bottom states for savings and debt health.

Which States Have the Healthiest Savings Profiles?

We compared participation rates in retirement and savings accounts, total amounts saved in each account.

The results show that states with the best savings health were spread across the country as far as Alaska and Hawaii to the West to New England and Mid-Atlantic states on the East Coast. States with the worst savings health were concentrated in the South and along the Mississippi River.

The Healthiest States for Savings

The healthiest states all surpassed the national average for participation rates in retirement and savings accounts The total amounts saved in these accounts each exceeded the national mean.

StateHouseholds With Retirement Savings Average Value, Retirement SavingsHouseholds with Savings AccountsAverage Balance, Savings Accounts
Alaska64%$265,579 83%$45,627
Hawaii69%$255,748 81%$47,922
Maryland65%$286,801 80%$38,437
Massachusetts63%$303,034 81%$37,820
Washington62%$256,413 82%$39,362
Connecticut65%$289,493 79%$41,238
Colorado63%$250,835 80%$38,334
New Jersey63%$302,741 78%$51,238
Minnesota66%$239,475 80%$33,380
New Hampshire64%$272,392 80%$34,720
United States58%$237,371 76%$35,257

These states ranked as the most positive for their residents’ savings, based on their retirement accounts, including 401(k)s, IRAs, and private pension plans, and liquid savings, as in savings and variable-interest/money market accounts. They’re listed from most to least healthy. Our ranking places the greatest (and an equal) weight on participation in retirement and savings accounts. We also considered the average amount residents have in those accounts.

The Unhealthiest States for Savings

Except for Ohio, the participation rate for retirement and savings accounts in these states lagged the national averages. The total amounts saved in both accounts also fell below the national mean, in many cases by significant amounts. Retirement savings were 12% to 27% below the national mean, while savings account balances were 16% to 22% off the national average.

StateHouseholds With Retirement Savings Average Value, Retirement SavingsHouseholds with Savings AccountsAverage Balance, Savings Accounts
Mississippi48%$172,518 69%$27,713
Arkansas50%$174,501 70%$28,794
West Virginia49%$176,875 70%$29,360
Kentucky52%$189,098 71%$28,340
Alabama51%$184,201 70%$30,372
Tennessee52%$190,394 71%$28,136
Louisiana52%$188,909 70%$31,283
North Carolina53%$194,654 74%$28,401
South Carolina52%$209,504 75%$29,399
Ohio58%$198,939 74%$27,452
United States58%$237,371 76%$35,257

These states ranked as the least positive for their residents’ savings, based on their retirement accounts, including 401 (k)s, IRAs, and private pension plans, and liquid savings, as in savings and variable-interest/money market accounts. They’re listed from most to least healthy. Our ranking places the greatest (and an equal) weight on participation in retirement and savings accounts. We also considered the average amount residents have in those accounts.

Which States Have the Unhealthiest Debt Profiles?

We compared average credit card debt, the percentage of households carrying debt, and delinquency rates of credit accounts.

The states with the healthiest debt profiles were largely located in the Midwest and New England, while those with the poorest debt profiles included the most populous states, such as California, Florida and Texas, as well as some of the least populous ones like Alaska and Wyoming.

The Healthiest States for Debt

The states with the healthiest debt profiles shared three characteristics: The proportion of delinquent credit accounts was well below the national average; the percentage of households carrying a balance was at or below the national average; and the amount of credit card debt was below the national mean.

StateAverage Credit Card DebtHouseholds Carrying a Card BalanceBalances, 90+ Days Past Due
South Dakota$5,861 57%20%
Vermont$5,992 59%20%
Maine$5,346 58%25%
Nebraska$5,623 60%21%
Iowa$5,842 60%22%
Wisconsin$5,678 60%23%
Massachusetts$5,677 62%21%
North Dakota$6,707 60%20%
Rhode Island$5,387 59%28%
Michigan$5,508 57%32%
Ohio$4,823 56%34%
United States$6,750 60.5%32%

These states ranked as the most positive for their residents’ debt, based on their credit accounts. They’re listed from most to least healthy. This ranking most heavily emphasizes the proportion of households that have delinquent credit accounts that are 90 days or more past due. The next greatest weight is given to the percentage of households that carry a balance from month to month. We also considered the average amount of credit card debt each household carries.

The Unhealthiest States for Debt

These states were weighed down by how residents managed their credit card debt, rather than the average amount of debt they carried. Texas illustrates this point. Fifty-seven percent of Texas households carry a balance,lower than the national average. The state's average debt is only slightly higher than the national average. But the percentage of delinquent credit accounts in Texas is substantially higher than the national average.

StateAverage Credit Card DebtHouseholds Carrying a Card BalanceBalances, 90+ Days Past Due
Alaska$10,091 68%34%
Nevada$6,825 64%43%
California$8,917 67%28%
Colorado$7,773 67%29%
Maryland$7,364 65%31%
New Mexico$6,782 62%39%
Wyoming$8,979 66%27%
Florida$6,887 62%38%
Texas$6,948 57%44%
Arizona$6,313 64%36%
District of Columbia$7,175 64%31%
Utah$8,661 67%26%
United States$6,750 60.5%32%

These states ranked as the least positive for their residents’ debt, based on their credit accounts. They’re listed from least to most healthy. This ranking most heavily emphasizes the proportion of households that have delinquent credit accounts that are 90 days or more past due. The next greatest weight is given to the percentage of households that carry a balance from month to month. We also considered the average amount of credit card debt each household carries.

Savings Health by State

Here are all the states and the metrics that determined their savings rankings. A rank of 1 means the state scored better, relative to all the other states.

RankStateAverage Value, Retirement SavingsHouseholds With Retirement SavingsAverage Balance, Savings AccountsHouseholds with Savings Accounts
47Alabama$184,20151%$30,37270%
1Alaska$265,57964%$45,62783%
31Arizona$220,86656%$28,17879%
50Arkansas$174,50150%$28,79470%
13California$299,62659%$47,29379%
7Colorado$250,83563%$38,33480%
6Connecticut$289,49365%$41,23879%
18Delaware$231,08261%$35,76677%
15District of Columbia$252,95360%$36,91578%
34Florida$224,44952%$35,19175%
38Georgia$205,55155%$31,58375%
2Hawaii$255,74869%$47,92281%
21Idaho$224,99357%$30,99080%
19Illinois$259,94061%$37,45775%
37Indiana$207,13058%$27,48275%
20Iowa$216,18362%$28,42279%
28Kansas$212,25760%$28,34278%
48Kentucky$189,09852%$28,34071%
45Louisiana$188,90952%$31,28370%
40Maine$197,40657%$25,71676%
3Maryland$286,80165%$38,43780%
4Massachusetts$303,03463%$37,82081%
36Michigan$209,81758%$27,15676%
9Minnesota$239,47566%$33,38080%
51Mississippi$172,51848%$27,71369%
39Missouri$201,74858%$25,79576%
27Montana$224,54755%$34,87478%
22Nebraska$215,56062%$27,71279%
23Nevada$217,65157%$31,87280%
10New Hampshire$272,39264%$34,72080%
8New Jersey$302,74163%$51,23878%
29New Mexico$225,70053%$32,28778%
26New York$252,30958%$43,38475%
44North Carolina$194,65453%$28,40174%
17North Dakota$214,34262%$29,82879%
42Ohio$198,93958%$27,45274%
41Oklahoma$193,41255%$31,76172%
16Oregon$248,45358%$32,77580%
30Pennsylvania$217,92459%$29,20575%
25Rhode Island$232,93059%$31,10377%
43South Carolina$209,50452%$29,39975%
35South Dakota$199,36859%$26,36477%
46Tennessee$190,39452%$28,13671%
32Texas$224,89956%$34,93175%
11Utah$227,46761%$37,72282%
33Vermont$213,38059%$28,10676%
14Virginia$261,81461%$36,71878%
5Washington$256,41362%$39,36282%
49West Virginia$176,87549%$29,36070%
24Wisconsin$214,24161%$28,81278%
12Wyoming$244,49960%$40,85681%

Debt Health by State

Here are all the states and the metrics that determined their debt rankings. A rank of 1 means the state scored better, relative to all the other states.

RankStateAverage Credit Card Debt Households Carrying a Card BalanceBalances, 90+ Days Past Due
21Alabama$6,05253.0%39%
51Alaska$10,09168.0%34%
42Arizona$6,31364.0%36%
18Arkansas$5,88852.0%39%
49California$8,91767.0%28%
48Colorado$7,77367.0%29%
27Connecticut$6,93962.0%25%
37Delaware$6,62061.0%38%
41District of Columbia$7,17564.0%31%
44Florida$6,88762.0%38%
33Georgia$6,47057.0%40%
35Hawaii$6,93769.0%24%
34Idaho$6,91065.0%27%
28Illinois$6,25462.0%30%
15Indiana$5,73357.0%34%
5Iowa$5,84260.0%22%
24Kansas$6,11160.0%30%
17Kentucky$6,07553.0%36%
31Louisiana$6,12953.0%45%
3Maine$5,34658.0%25%
47Maryland$7,36465.0%31%
7Massachusetts$5,67762.0%21%
10Michigan$5,50857.0%32%
12Minnesota$6,20463.0%17%
20Mississippi$5,78551.0%40%
19Missouri$5,69058.0%34%
32Montana$7,52663.0%25%
4Nebraska$5,62360.0%21%
50Nevada$6,82564.0%43%
16New Hampshire$6,15763.0%22%
39New Jersey$8,12165.0%27%
46New Mexico$6,78262.0%39%
26New York$7,12261.0%25%
23North Carolina$6,35656.0%34%
8North Dakota$6,70760.0%20%
11Ohio$4,82356.0%34%
38Oklahoma$8,10455.0%41%
30Oregon$6,88165.0%24%
13Pennsylvania$5,61060.0%30%
9Rhode Island$5,38759.0%28%
22South Carolina$5,40656.0%42%
1South Dakota$5,86157.0%20%
14Tennessee$5,56453.0%37%
43Texas$6,94857.0%44%
40Utah$8,66167.0%26%
2Vermont$5,99259.0%20%
36Virginia$7,19663.0%28%
29Washington$6,78467.0%23%
25West Virginia$6,11452.0%41%
6Wisconsin$5,67860.0%23%
45Wyoming$8,97966.0%27%

Methodology

To obtain a measure of the relative savings and credit debt health of each state, we examined multiple data points to arrive at a score.

For savings health, we considered the average savings account balance per household and the average retirement savings per household. We defined savings accounts as any liquid savings, including regular savings account and variable-interest/money market deposit accounts. Retirement savings accounts included 401(k) plans, IRAs, Keogh plans and private pension plans. In each case, we also factored in the percentage of households in each state that had one of these accounts.

We determined debt health by ranking states based on their average credit card debt, the percentage of households that carry a balance, and the percentage of accounts that were 90 days or more late on a credit card or collections payment at least once.

To create a score, we ranked each state for each data category. For example, if a state had the 5th highest average retirement savings, it would receive a score of 5. We repeated this for all factors, applied a weight to each, and summed all scores.

Data for retirement savings, savings accounts, debt and debt participation came from the Nielsen Financial CLOUT 2017 survey. Data on credit delinquencies was obtained from Experian’s 2016 State of Credit report.

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