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Published: Wednesday, 11/9/2011

Consumer scores in Ohio cities stay strong

Credit status ranks in top 50% in U.S.

BY MARK WILLIAMS
COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Midwesterners tend to be a fairly conservative lot, and that has helped them preserve their financial standing better than consumers in other parts of the country.

Credit scores of consumers in Ohio’s biggest cities remain in the top 50 percent as people continue to be cautious about using debt, according to the second annual State of Credit study by the credit-reporting company Experian.

All in all, Ohio consumers’ average credit scores stayed about where they were last year, ranging from 763 in Cincinnati to 750 in Toledo an Columbus. Nationally, the average was 749 out of 143 cities. Those scores would be a grade of “C” on Experian’s credit-score range, which runs from 501 to 990.

Eight of the 10 highest average credit scores were in the Midwest, including four cities in Wisconsin. Eight of the 10 lowest 10 were in the South, led by four cities in Texas. The better scores tend to be in areas where unemployment rates have been at or below the national average.

The October national jobless rate stood at 9 percent. Ohio’s rate for October hasn’t been announced, but its September rate was 9.1 percent.

Scores tend to be higher in areas where there is a stable population and homeownership is high, said Maxine Sweet, Experian’s vice president of public education. Scores of younger, more-mobile consumers without a deep credit history tend to be lower.

People who have been devastated by losing their home to foreclosure or who have been out of work for a lengthy period have seen their credit scores plummet, Ms. Sweet said. Missing and late payments are the biggest contributors to declines in credit scores.

Most other consumers have been able to keep their scores from sliding by continuing to be cautious with credit and trying to pay down debt, she said.



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