Delaware prides itself as the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. It hasn’t, however, led the way out of the pandemic induced financial doldrums. But that doesn’t make it much different from its neighbors.

The state’s largest economic engine is finance and insurance, and it also relies on chemical manufacturing. DuPont, an international chemical manufacturing giant, is based there.

Like much of the Northeast, Delaware’s August 2021 unemployment rate (5.4%) slightly lags the national average (5.2%), though it is better than that of its adjacent neighbors: Maryland (5.9%), New Jersey (7.2%) and Pennsylvania (6.4%).

Delaware ranks 23rd nationally in employment growth, but its GDP only grew an annualized 2.8% from the first to second quarter of 2021, ahead of only Alaska (1.8%) and Wyoming (2.3%) nationally.

Delaware has recovered 77% of the jobs it lost in the pandemic, slightly ahead of the national average (76%).

So, plenty of people in the state are still hurt by the turmoil of 2020. Fortunately, there are several private and governmental agencies that can help Delaware residents needing help.

Debt Relief Options for Delaware Residents

InCharge Debt Solutions and its debt management program offer an alternative for those struggling financially. The certified credit counselors at InCharge work with creditors to lower interest rates, consolidate credit card debt and create a personalized payment plan that you can afford.

Consumers paid an average of 16.5% interest rates on credit cards in 2021. Those who get behind on their monthly card bills can see those rates jump to 25% or more. InCharge works with credit card companies to lower those rates to about 8%, sometimes less.

The goal is to help customers wipe out their credit card debt in 3-5 years. However, clients must stick to a detailed spending budget — and follow it religiously — to do away with debt on schedule.

InCharge takes your monthly payments and distributes them to credit card companies in agreed upon amounts. It’s a user-friendly and hassle-free plan that consumers can enroll into by phone or online.

Credit scores are not a factor in enrolling. Even consumers with low credit scores can qualify for debt-management plans.

Here are other assistance programs available to Delaware residents facing financial problems:

Debt Settlement – This plan can help you pay less than the amount owed.  It is often used for relief from credit cards, personal loans and medical bills. Consumers deposit money in an escrow account and when it gets large enough, make a lump-sum offer that creditors can accept or reject. While this option may solve some of your financial issues in the short term, it will have negative long-term effects. There usually are late fees and interest charges that bloat the original amount owed. Also, any debt settlement is recorded on your credit report for the next seven years and hurts your ability to receive credit in the future.

Nonprofit Debt Settlement – This is offered by a select group of nonprofit credit counseling agencies. The difference between this and traditional debt settlement is that the creditors have agreed in advance to reduce the amount owed by 40%-50%. Consumers can start reducing the amount owed with the first monthly payment. The debt is eliminated in 36 months.

Debt Consolidation Loan – Borrowers with strong credit profiles can qualify for a low-interest debt consolidation loan. You will still have to pay off the consolidation loan, but at least you won’t be hit so hard by the credit card companies’ soaring interest rates. It also gives you the benefit of turning multiple payments into one, simple monthly transaction.

Bankruptcy – This option can free you of credit card debt, but it is a last resort when all other options won’t work. While bankruptcy might have great benefits in the short term, the damage done in the long term could be painful for years to come. The bankruptcy filing will negatively impact your credit score for the next 7-10 years. That credit score hit will most likely hamper future credit transactions like getting a loan to buy a home or a new vehicle. Before choosing the bankruptcy option, make sure to consider the effects this will have on your credit.

Delaware Debt Resources

Delaware residents struggling financially have several federal and state assistance programs to help them. Here are some of the services that are offered to those needing food, shelter, childcare, legal aid and other basic necessities:

  • General Assistance is a state-funded program providing cash assistance to low-income people who don’t qualify for federally funded programs or Social Security benefits.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is Delaware’s main cash assistance program, giving people temporary help until they can get a job.
  • Community Resource and Assistance Services provides for critical needs for financial assistance with utilities, rent, shelter, etc. by bringing together resources available from faith-based and non-profit organizations.
  • Emergency assistance services provide funds for utilities, rent, shelter, and other critical needs for eligible low-income persons and families.
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance helps with paying the costs of home heating and cooling is provided for eligible low-income individuals and families.
  • WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) provides nutrition education and supplemental food vouchers to eligible infants, children, pregnant women and recently delivered women.
  • Child Care Services provides support for families with children to enable the caretaker to hold a job, obtain training or meet special needs of the parent or child. Childcare may also be provided in child abuse cases to help protect the child
  • Delaware Healthy Children Program is a low cost health insurance program for Delaware’s uninsured children. The Delaware Healthy Children Program features the same high-quality coverage you’d get with some of the best private insurance plans.

Delaware Debt Statistics

A snapshot of the debt that Delaware residents are carrying in 2021:

Credit card debt: The average Delaware resident owes $5,462 on credit cards, 12th highest in the country. But that’s lower than neighboring Maryland (No. 4, $5,977) and New Jersey (No. 5, $5,978).

Mortgage debt: Delawareans owed an average of $190,846 on their mortgages in 2019, up 2.9% since 2010 and the 18th highest in the country.

Auto loan debt: The average car debt in Delaware is $18,800, 31st highest nationally.

Student loan debt: Delaware has the fourth highest average student loan debt ($37,447).

Credit score: With an average FICO score of 710, Delaware was 17th lowest nationally in 2020. But 710 is nine points higher than in 2010.

Identity theft: Delaware had the 13th highest number of identity theft reports per 100,000 people (449).

Bankruptcy and foreclosures: With one in every 5,348 homes going into foreclosure, Delaware had the fourth highest foreclosure rate; neighboring New Jersey ranked third. The good news is that in the past year, the state had the biggest decrease in bankruptcy filings (-1.57%).

Sources

N.A. (ND) Local Area Unemployment Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/lau/home.htm

N.A. (ND) Précis State: Delaware Economic Outlook. Retrieved from https://economy.com/precis-snapshot?g=DE

N.A. (ND) Real GDP: Percent Change at Annual Rate, 2021:Q1—2021:Q2. Retrieved from https://www.bea.gov/system/files/qgdpstate1021.png

Ettlinger, M., and Hensley, J. (2021, October 1). COVID-19 Economic Crisis: By State. Retrieved from https://carsey.unh.edu/publication/COVID-19-Economic-Impact-By-State

Resendiz, J. (2021, July 9) Average Credit Card Debt in America: 2021. Retrieved from https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-credit-card-debt#by-region

Lembo Stolba, S. (2021, February 15) Mortgage Debt Sees Record Growth Despite Pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-much-americans-owe-on-their-mortgages-in-every-state/

Lembo Stolba, S. (2019, August 12) Top 10 States with the Highest Average Auto Loan Debt. Retrieved from https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/research/states-with-the-highest-average-auto-loan-debt/

N.A. (2021, February 26) Student Loan Debt by State — A Complete Rundown. Retrieved from https://balancingeverything.com/student-loan-debt-by-state/

White, A. (2021, February 3) Minnesota residents have the highest average credit score — here’s how other states compare. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/select/average-credit-score-by-state/

Daly, L, (2020, April 13) Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud Statistics for 2020. Retrieved from https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/research/identity-theft-credit-card-fraud-statistics/

Rothstein, R. (2021, September 27) Foreclosure Rates for All 50 States in August 2021. Retrieved from https://www.sofi.com/learn/content/foreclosure-rates-for-50-states/

N.A. (ND) Bankruptcy Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.abi.org/newsroom/bankruptcy-statistics