Utah’s economy was in a unique spot at the start of 2020: almost everybody’s working, but not many are using the money to pay off credit card debt.
Utah has one of the strongest economies in the country. Its unemployment rate was a microscopic 2.5% in January of 2020, but its residents are still racking up debt faster than the national average.
Utah residents debt from credit cards was $11,222 in 2018, the third highest average in the United States. Credit card debt is considered bad debt because it has high interest rates and isn’t used to buy appreciating assets like a house.
For help with credit card debt, InCharge Debt Solutions offers free credit counseling to residents in all 50 states, including Utah.
InCharge provides nonprofit credit counseling services that help Utah residents eliminate credit card debt. Their debt management plan consolidates debt, reduces interest rates , and provides affordable monthly payments.
Debt Relief Options for Utah Residents
InCharge is one of many nonprofit debt counseling services available in Utah. Residents can apply online or over the phone for help from InCharge.
Credit scores aren’t a factor in qualifying for InCharge’s debt management program.
A debt management plan sets up a payment schedule that consolidates credit card debts into one affordable monthly payment. There is no loan involved.
Consumers in the program agree to stop using their credit cards in exchange for paying reduced interest rates on their credit card debt. InCharge administers the program. It takes your payment each month and distributes it in agreed upon amounts to your creditors.
There are other options to help solve your debt problems:
- Debt settlement, in which a company agrees to accept payment that is less than what’s owed on your credit card debt. This is a risky option that will lower your credit score.
- A debt consolidation loan where if you have a very good credit score you can receive a loan to pay off your credit card debt at a lower interest rate and monthly payment. You’ll still have the consolidation loan to pay off.
- Bankruptcy will eliminate all credit card debt but will negatively impact your credit score for 7-10 years, making it difficult to get a home or car loan
- Consider a DIY (do it yourself) debt management program with a debt management template set up by InCharge.
Utah Debt Resources
Help from InCharge is just one of a number of financial assistance programs available in Utah.
Here are some more resources:
- Utah Homeless Prevention Program — provides $700 per family for one month’s mortgage payment, $450 for one month’s rent, and $300 for utilities.
- Family Employment Program — provides temporary cash assistance for up to 36 months within a lifetime.
- Utah Section 8 Voucher Program — helps low-income families and individuals find affordable and safe housing.
- Utah Home Energy Assistance Target Program — also called HEAT, it provides winter utility assistance to low-income households.
- Utah Children’s Health Insurance Program — abbreviated CHIP, the program is for uninsured children from birth through age 18. Premiums and co-pays are limited to 5% of the family’s annual income.
- Utah Employment Support Child Care Program — helps employed individuals pay for child care.
Utah Debt Statistics
Credit card debt isn’t the only financial problem Utah residents face. Utah ranks 10th in the nation for household debt, at $59,320 for each adult resident. The national average is $50,090.
Most of that debt, 77%, is mortgages, which is usually considered good debt, as long as you can afford the payments and associated costs of owning a home.
Here’s what total household debt in Utah in 2018 was made up of:
- Mortgages: 77%
- Car loans: 9%
- Student loans: 8%
- Credit cards: 6%
First-time homebuyers in Utah may see the biggest effects of the state’s economy on their finances. Average mortgage payments have gone up by more than $700 a month in the last five years, an economist told TV station KSL in Salt Lake City.
As more people move to Utah — 52,408 did from July 2018 to July 2019 — there is increased housing demand. So many people have jobs in Utah that a labor shortage makes it difficult for home builders to meet demand. First-time buyers or low-income families have trouble finding a home they can buy or rent.
“The fuel of the Utah economy is mainly through technology and attracting the Millennial generation to be here,” says Patrick Donohoe, an online wealth adviser at Paradigm Life, and a Salt Lake City resident since 2003.
Many tech workers live in downtown Salt Lake City, where it’s getting more expensive, Donohoe says. They commute to Silicon Slopes, an area outside of downtown where startups and tech businesses have offices.
Utah has the 26th highest rent in the country, according to RentData.org. The fair market rent in Utah ranges from $699 for a two-bedroom apartment in Beaver County to $1,183 for a two-bedroom unit in Summit County.
Here are some other facts about Utah’s economy:
- Personal income rose 6% in 2019, third highest in the nation. Nationally, it increased 4.5%.
- Foreclosure rates ranked second lowest in the country with 0.29% of all loans in foreclosure at the end of the third quarter of 2019.
- Non-agricultural employment increased an estimated 3.1% in 2019, compared to 1.4% nationally.
- The unemployment rate of 2.4% in early 2020, matched the lowest in the state’s history and is the third lowest in the country.
- Utah’s year-over-year population growth rate of 1.7% in July 2019 was the fourth highest in the U.S.
- International exports from Utah totaled $17.4 billion in 2019, with most of it being gold.
Utah has some of the strongest job growth in the nation, at 3% in 2018-19, second only to Nevada’s 3.3%.
Utah workers in the “professional, scientific and technical services” sector, saw 16% growth, followed by 15% from information industries, 12% from retail trade, and 9% each from health care and from nondurable goods manufacturing.
All of that caused Utah to rank second in the nation for growth in its quarterly gross domestic product, or GDP. Utah’s GDP grew 3.2%, just behind Texas at 4%.
Higher employment from growing industries such as energy is some of the best news that Utah residents can get, says Chane Steiner, CEO of Creditful.
“As employment rises there is more disposable income in the public pocket, and less unmanageable personal debt to slow growth,” Steiner says.
N.A. (2020, March 4) Utah’s Employment Summary: January 2020. Retrieved from https://jobs.utah.gov/blog/post/2020/03/04/utah-s-employment-summary-january-2020
Hoffower, H. (2018, August 9) The average credit card debt in every state, ranked. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/average-credit-card-debt-in-every-state-ranked-2018-8