National figures for mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures showed significant improvement in the first half of this year, according to a study by Kemper Securities Inc., Chicago.
The company also tracked three other economic indicators for the period - home sales, employment, and unemployment - and found positive trends nationally.
In the first quarter, delinquencies of 30 days or more fell 8.7% below the level of a year earlier. The decline in the second quarter was 7.5%.
Foreclosures dropped by 3.85% in the first quarter and 1.92% in the second quarter, according to Kemper's calculations.
The pattern of improvement, however, was uneven across the country, especially in foreclosures, which soared in California and Hawaii but dropped sharply in Alabama, Colorado, and Wisconsin.
New Hampshire showed a peculiarly mixed pattern, wit foreclosures dropping in the first quarter and jumping in the second.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire mortgage delinquencies dropped sharply.
"After the trough of a recession, you see rising foreclosures," said Richard Ciccarone, director of tax-exempt fixed-income research for Kemper. "The numbers for New Hampshire have been gradually getting better over the last few quarters. We may be seeing the bottom in New England."
Mr. Ciccarone is particularly bearish about California. "We still expect the economy there to stay weak for three to six months," he said.
He pointed to factors outside the study that were negative influences.
One was the coming tax increase, which will have a substantial impact in California, a wealthy state.
The other is defense closings and cutbacks, some of whose effects may not have been felt yet.
While California showed some improvement in its unemployment figures, Mr. Ciccarone said, it was probably due to workers' leaving the state or the work force.
Mr. Ciccarone also noted that though Florida came up with the best overall numbers for Kemper's five economic categories, the state's performance must be viewed with some caution.
"A lot of the improvement could be attributable to the response to Hurricane Andrew," he said.