Do you owe more than your neighbor?

We did a state-by-state comparison to determine personal loan distribution across America

Last Updated 3/1/18
by Kate Williams, Ph.D. ConsumerAffairs Research Team

How does your state stack up?

The average American has between $6,500 and $11,000 of debt from personal unsecured loans, and we at ConsumerAffairs wanted to know how that range was spread out around the country.

Our research compared voting patterns and demographic information from the US Census to the average unsecured personal loan balances by state to identify interesting trends and outliers. We discovered some unique factors that influence how far in debt each state is:

Presidential voting patterns

In government, Republicans have the reputation of being fiscally conservative, and the same may hold true when it comes to taking on personal debt. The states with the highest personal loan balances in the first quarter of 2016 tended to vote blue in the 2012 presidential election, with nine out of 10 voting for Obama. Of the 10 states with the lowest per capita loan balances, 70 percent voted for Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

Obama (D) 332

Romney (R) 206


    Differences in income between men and women

    High-cost states like Hawaii and New York may rank among the top states for income parity between genders, but they also tend to have higher-than-average personal loan balances. In Utah, where the median income for full-time female employees is less than 55 percent of their male counterparts, the average personal loan balance is just over $6,600.

    80% +

    75% - 79%

    70% - 74%

    64% - 69%

    60% - 64%

    Below 60%


      Population born in a foreign country

      Among the top five states with the highest personal loan balances, only one, Montana, has a foreign born population in the single digits. According to the U.S. Census, California can claim the highest percentage of foreign-born residents at 27 percent. While the Golden State does have a notoriously high-cost cost of living, its residents’ personal loan balances actually rank right in the middle of the pack with an average of $7,660 in unsecured loan debt.

      0% - 5%

      6% - 10%

      11% - 15%

      16% - 20%

      20% - 25%

      25% - 30%


        Personal loan balances

        New Mexico, Oklahoma and Maine can claim the lowest average of unsecured personal loan balances in America. So which states have the most personal loan debt? According to the latest data from TransUnion, Montana, New Jersey and Hawaii take those honors. The average balance in Hawaii is more than double the average balance in New Mexico.

        $10,000 - $12,000

        $9,000 - $9,999

        $8,000 - $8,999

        $6,000 - $7,999

        Below $6,000


          All demographic information is sourced from U.S. Census data. Personal loan debt information is sourced from TransUnion's Q1 2016 Quarterly Insight report

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          As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kate Williams, Ph.D. believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase. She spends countless hours researching companies and industries before writing buyers guides to make sure consumers have all the information they need to make smart, informed buying decisions.

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