Happiness Index: South Carolina Ranks Worst

Southern States Are Living in the Red

The recession officially ended more than a year ago, but its effects can still be felt by consumers nationwide. The unemployment rate remained stuck near 10% this year, and currently stands at a stubbornly high 9.8% as of November.  Meanwhile, many Americans remain unsure about whether they will have a proper roof over their heads, as one in every 492 homes received a foreclosure notice last month. To make matters worse, many consumers are increasingly hounded by personal debts that they are struggling to pay off. The average U.S. adult owed nearly $25,000 in non-mortgage debt from credit cards, auto loans and the like, as of the end of October, which works out to be about 61% of the total annual income that the average American takes home. That doesn’t allow too much financial breathing room. Yet, for all the menacing statistics, the financial well-being of some regions in the country is significantly better off. In the latest installment of the Happiness Index, MainStreet finds that states in the Northeast and Midwest are beating out other regions in financial well-being, though even these regions are not without problems. By contrast, some states, particularly in the South and Southwest, have fallen far below the national average in each of the above categories, and consumers there are desperately in need of some financial lifelines.