The Consumer Distress Index

The CredAbility Consumer Distress Index was a quarterly measure of the financial condition of the average American consumer. This was the first index to provide a regular, comprehensive snapshot of the American consumer’s total financial picture over time. While the index is no longer updated, recent data can still provide insight into the financial health of consumers. We have retained data from early 2013 and provide it here. The index was based on a 100-point scale:

LESS THAN 60 60-69 70-79 80-89 90-100
Emergency/Crisis Distressed/Unstable Weakening/At-Risk Good/Stable Excellent/Secure
The consumer is in the midst of a crisis and needs direct intervention to regain stability. The consumer is financially unstable and needs to take immediate action to address their problem. The consumer is at-risk of sliding into trouble and needs to take stabilizing action to prevent further problems. The consumer is stable, but should evaluate and explore options to strengthen their position. The consumer is secure and should continue current financial behavior and focus on long-term goals.

Methodology

The index was published quarterly using publicly available data and a proprietary methodology, supplemented by data and insights from CredAbility’s own research and analysis. The index drew on data from government and private sources in the following five areas:

Employment Stable income is the foundation of any financial plan. This category measures unemployment and underemployment on family finances.
Housing A safe, affordable place to live is the number one priority for families. This category measures how well consumers are paying their rent/mortgage and the impact of housing costs on their finances.
Credit Strong credit scores create more choices and better financial options. This category assesses the strength of the consumer’s credit scores and how well they manage credit.
Household Budget Spending less than you make is the daily choice that leads to long-term success or failure. This category measures how well consumers are living within their means and saving.
Net Worth Strong, positive net worth creates options and independence. This category measures how well consumers are strengthening their personal balance sheet.

2013 Results

Data from early 2013 can still be useful when looking for insight into the condition of Americans’ personal financial situations. You can view the data by category, state, or MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) below.

By Category

Employment
Housing
Credit
Household Budget
Net Worth

By State

By MSA