(Source: Paul Gores Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MCT) — Wisconsin received a double dose of evidence Wednesday that it’s faring better than many parts of the United States as the economy slowly recovers.
One report said the financial condition of Wisconsin households is healthier than in the nation as a whole, and that the four-county Milwaukee metro area ranks 11th-best among 25 major metro areas in the country.
Another report showed delinquent mortgages continued to decline in the first quarter, and that 5.09% were in arrears in Wisconsin compared with 6.94% nationwide.
The CredAbility Consumer Distress Index gave Wisconsin a score of 73, compared with the overall U.S. rating of 69.9 for the first quarter of this year. That made Wisconsin the 18th-most financially healthy state in the nation.
The 100-point scale index, sponsored by the Atlanta-based nonprofit consumer credit counseling and education agency CredAbility, tracks the financial condition of the average U.S. household by measuring five categories: employment; housing; credit; how families manage budgets; and net worth. Each category is assigned 20 points. A score below 70 indicates financial distress, but the 69.9 score nationally in this year’s first quarter was a big jump from 67.6% in the previous quarter and the highest since 2008.
“At long last, the average U.S. household is on the verge of moving out of financial distress,” said Mark Cole, chief operating officer of CredAbility and author of the index. “Consumers weathered rising gasoline prices and are now in the best financial shape since the onset of the recession nearly four years ago. Finances are still tight, but assuming we can hold onto gains in employment and housing, the financial health of the average household will continue to stabilize.”
CredAbility also measured financial distress among households in 25 of the nation’s biggest metro areas. The Milwaukee metro area had a ranking of 67.1. The most financially healthy metro area was Washington, D.C., with a score of 74. Worst off was Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., with 57.9.
CredAbility said none of the 25 U.S. metro areas had a net worth score above 70, which indicates average households are having problems building wealth.
CredAbility said the index uses more than 65 data points from government, public and private data and a proprietary methodology for compiling, combining and evaluating the data.
Meanwhile Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said delinquent mortgages continued to decrease in Wisconsin during the first quarter.
Total past-due loans fell to 5.09% of all mortgages in the state in the quarter ended March 31, compared with 5.46% in the first three months of 2011.
Nationally, the delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties decreased on a non-seasonally adjusted basis to 6.94% from 7.79% – an improvement attributed to a recovering economy.
The delinquency rate includes loans that are at least one payment past due but does not include loans in the process of foreclosure. The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process in the U.S. at the end of the first quarter was 4.39% nationally, down from 4.52% at the same time in 2011. In Wisconsin, loans in foreclosure fell to 3.37% from 3.74%.
“Mortgage delinquencies normally fall during the first quarter of the year, but the declines we saw were even greater than the normal seasonal adjustments would predict, so delinquencies are clearly continuing to improve,” said Michael Fratantoni, the mortgage bankers’ vice president of research and economics
©2012 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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