The Golden State loses some of its luster in new figures from the New York Federal Reserve: The bank’s data show that California takes the top spot in the U.S. for consumer debt.
California residents carried an average debt load of $78,000 in the second quarter of 2010, said the paper. The national average is much lower, at $49,000. The data also revealed that the residents of states with the highest debt loads also got out of debt faster in the second quarter.
The total national consumer debt peaked in 2008, at $12.5 trillion. Mortgages represented most of that figure – indeed, mortgages have largely driven the surge in consumer debt since 1999.
In the first quarter of 1999, average consumer debt was just $4.6 trillion, $3.2 trillion of which came from mortgages. Total consumer debt now stands at $11.7 trillion, with $8.8 trillion of that tied up in mortgages.
Having mortgaged themselves to the hilt, Americans are clearly now working to get out of debt. However, it’s clear that they have a long road ahead of them, and the enormous weight of mortgage debt will only be made heavier by declining real estate values, which put more and more home loans “underwater.”