The link between debt in collections and local conditions such as access to health insurance and housing markets is strong, according to Signe-Mary McKernan, senior fellow and Co-Director Opportunity and Ownership Initiative at the Urban Institute. 

McKernan previewed new research from the Urban Institute during a speech at NCCR 2015 in New Orleans on Monday. The annual conference is hosted by Collections & Credit Risk.

McKernan highlighted that 1/3 of Americans currently have debt in collections with an average amount of $5,000. Regionally, debt is concentrated heavily in the South. Among states, Nevada - among the states hit hardest by the recession - tops the list. Forty-seven percent of people with a credit file in Nevada have debt in collections.

The five metro areas where at least 45% of people have debt in collections include: McAllen, Texas; Lakeland, Fla., Las Vegas, Columbia, S.C. and Jacksonville, Fla.

Minnesota has the lowest number of residents who have debt in collections. But the areas in the state with the highest numbers for debt match up with the areas with the highest numbers for no health insurance, said McKernan.

“Debt in collections is related to local-level health care conditions, housing and demographic and economic characteristics,” she said. “We’ve established that local conditions matter and that both health insurance coverage and housing markets have implications.”

Encore Capital Group played a role in developing the new research and Brian Enneking, a vice president at Encore, also spoke during the presentation.

NCCR 2015 continues runs through Wednesday.

Scott Ankenbrand, senior vice president, Regulatory Special Projects, at US Bank, will deliver Tuesday's keynote.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.