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Research and Statistics

Low credit score doesn’t mean high debt for many Americans

Equifax survey shows more below-prime consumers are financially healthy today than in 2008


A new study by Equifax shows many consumers with less-than-prime scores actually have a healthy measure of financial capacity.

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Among the myriad impacts of the Great Recession is Americans who have suffered serious hits to their credit scores. But a new study by Equifax shows how many consumers with less-than-prime scores actually have a healthy measure of financial capacity.

The credit agency analyzed how many American adults had a near-prime or subprime credit score at the same time as having a debt-to-income ratio of less than 30 percent. Debt-to-income, or DTI, measures the proportion of a consumer’s debt in relation to their income, with 30 percent being the upper threshold of what’s considered financially healthy.

See related:  Consumers’ credit score knowledge is declining, despite uptick in free scores

In 2008, 28.3 million Americans fit this profile of being financially solid but with a below optimal credit rating. By 2018, the number had climbed to 41.9 million Americans. That’s an increase of 48 percent, even though the population as a whole grew only 7.6 percent during the 10-year period.

Perhaps not surprisingly, millennials now make up the largest share of this group, registering at 12.3 million consumers, ages 24-41. Compared to 2008, that’s up 112 percent, or more than double.

Baby boomers were the biggest generation in this profile 10 years ago, but since then, they’ve inched up only 24 percent, to 11.4 million consumers ages 54-72.

Generation X also showed significant gains in this profile, climbing to 8.5 million Americans ages 42-53, for a 57 percent gain over 2008.

Equifax’s findings were drawn from its database of U.S. credit reports and other financial measures and were released June 5.

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