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New reports show a growing divide in America's credit debt

The economic malaise continues in America, and Escondido residents are not immune to the ill effects of a struggling economy. Credit card debt continues to be a major problem for millions of Americans, and for many more an even bigger threat looms: student loan debt. However, since the downturn of the economy back at the end of 2007, many people have taken the opportunity to pay down debts and focus on building up savings. Others have found that they are in no position to make these types of financial changes. As a result, it appears that a new type of divide is taking place in America.

According to a recent report, the number of Americans who currently have no debt is higher than the number was in 2000. This great news, right? Paying down debt is not always an easy thing to do, but it appears that many of Americans have made it a priority in recent years and as a result millions are living debt-free. But there is bad news in the report as well: Americans who still owe on debt are now carrying higher balances than in 2000.

Not only do Americans who are in debt owe more that the reported number from 2000, that number rose by approximately 40 percent - quite a large jump. Most of our Escondido readers have heard the national conversation in recent years of "have and have-nots," and now this phrase may apply to those with credit debt.

Although many expert opinions will detail how the worst of the economic mess of recent years is behind us, it is easy to forget just how many Americans are still struggling. The unemployment rate seems stagnant, with little change on a month-to-month basis. Lenders are still tight with funds, even though there are signs of that problem easing. An individual facing a crushing debt burden, however, may be looking for options. For some, filing for bankruptcy - admittedly never an easy decision - nevertheless could be a path toward a fresh start financially.

Source: USA Today, "More Americans debt-free, but the rest owe more," Tim Mullaney, March 21, 2013

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