U.S. consumers' average credit scores slipped one point in the past year, and credit card debt fell by 8% to $7,404 during the same period, according to data released by Credit Karma on Wednesday.
Nationally, consumers had an average credit score of 668 in December 2010, down from 669 in January 2010, although up from 666 in October 2010, according to the San Francisco-based company whose Web site tracks credit scores and household debt.
"As 2010 drew to a close, we saw credit scores stabilize and consumers make great efforts to pay down their debt,” says Ken Lin, CEO at CreditKarma.com. “If consumers continue their focus on financial responsibility, we suspect credit scores nationally will eventually increase in the new year.”
Consumers in six metropolitan statistical areas experienced a credit score decline greater than the national average during the course of 2010. Chicago, Houston and New York City saw a two-point drop, credit scores in Los Angeles and San Francisco lowered three points and Philadelphia had a four-point drop.
Consumers in certain states are paying off their credit card debt faster than average. In Wisconsin, consumers' average credit card debt declined by 31% since January. In Nevada, the average card debt declined 11%, and in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee consumers paid down card debt by 11% respectively.
Massachusetts and New Jersey have the highest credit scores nationally, averaging 686. Arkansas had the lowest average credit score nationally at 641. Six states have credit scores of 650 or lower - including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
Louisiana consumers experienced the largest average credit score shift this year, rising eight points since January to 647 in December.
In 2010, the average consumer with an account had:
· decreased home mortgage loans 4% to $173,340
· decreased home equity 4% to $49,803
· increased auto loans 4% to $15,274
· increased student loans 10% to $29,016
CreditKarma.com's U.S. Consumer Credit Score Climate Report compares the current credit scores of its user base with previous scores pulled at least 30 days prior and no more than 90 days prior to the stated month. The December report includes a comparison of more than 157,588 CreditKarma.com user scores.