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US Economy: The United States of Indebted America

By many measures, the American economy is booming. Yet that's not always translating into stronger financial health for a large share of US consumers.

One-third of Americans are weighed down by overdue debt, meaning their outstanding payments are in arrears and have been handed off to debt collectors, according to new research from The Urban Institute. That's not a healthy situation for households because overdue debt can lower one's credit score, making it harder to finance purchases such as a home or car while also making it more expensive to borrow money.

The problem is worse in some regions of the country, especially those where health insurance coverage is sparser, incomes are lower and the share of nonwhite households is higher, according to the Urban Institute's data. Almost one in five households have medical debt in collections, a sign of how many Americans struggle with the cost of health care, including those insurance.

That's not only a personal challenge but a community issue because those indebted households may struggle to pay their property taxes or rent on time.

"I don't think people understand how pervasive this is," said Signe-Mary McKernan, a Urban Institute senior fellow and co-director of its Opportunity and Ownership Initiative. "This matters to individuals, but our research shows it matters a great deal to the communities they live in."

She added, "When families have little to no savings and have a disruption, they're more likely to miss bills and get evicted. That's very expensive for cities."

Read more: The United States of Indebted America - CBS News

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