In which cities do Americans have the highest credit scores? The lowest credit scores? A survey released by credit ratings agency Experian sheds some light on these and a number of other issues concerning the personal finances of American consumers.

On the whole, Experian’s study revealed that credit ratings across the country rose, though by fairly small margins. Half of the cities with the lowest credit scores were able to increase their credit ratings and decrease the amount of debt held from last year, though debt only declined by about 1 percent.

That one percent essentially represents about a $200 decrease in debt per household to $24,542, and means that despite best efforts, American consumers are still having a hard time paying down their debt.

Wisconsin Leads Nation In Fiscal Responsibility:

On a whole, the Midwest beat out the rest of the nation in terms of credit scores, while the South did worse than any other U.S. region. According to Experian’s survey, eight out of 10 of the cities with the highest average credit scores were in the Midwest, while the same proportion of cities with the lowest average scores were located in the South.

Six out of ten of the cities with the lowest debt were also located in the Midwest, while 7 out of ten of the cities with the lowest credit ratings were located in the South.

Here’s a list of the metropolitan areas with the highest credit scores in the nation:

Metropolitan AreaAverage Credit Score
Wausau, Wisc.789
Minneapolis, Minn.787
Madison, Wisc.785
Cedar Rapids, Iowa781
San Francisco, Calif.781
Green Bay, Wisc.780
Boston, Mass.779
Peoria, Ill.778
Sioux Falls, S.D.778
La Crosse, Wisc.777

And, a list of the metropolitan areas with the lowest credit scores:
Metropolitan AreaAverage Credit ScoreMetropolitan AreaCredit Score
Wausau, Wisc.789Harlingen, Tex.686
Minneapolis, Minn.787Jackson, Miss.701
Madison, Wisc.785Corpus Chrsti, Tex.702
Cedar Rapids, Iowa781Monroe, La.706
San Francisco, Calif.781Shreveport, La.706
Green Bay, Wisc.780Augusta, Ga.709
Boston, Mass.779Bakersfield, Calif.709
Peoria, Ill.778Las Vegas, Nev.709
Sioux Falls, S.D.778Tyler, Tex.710
La Crosse, Wisc.777El Paso, Tex.710

The city of Wausau, Wisc. topped the list of individuals with the highest credit score in Experian’s second annual credit study with a score of 789, ousting the city of Minneapolis, Minn. from the title. At the under end of the scale was the city of Harlingen, Tex., where residents have an average credit score of 686.

Meet Wausau, Wisconsin

For those unfamiliar with Wausau, Wisc., here’s a profile: the average resident of Wausau has 1.71 open credit cards and $22,439 in total debt. The city has a population of 39,106, while its unemployment rate is 8.1 percent—just over one percentage point lower than the national average. The city has also experienced 36 foreclosures this year alone.

In comparison, the average resident of Harlingen, Tex. has just 1.35 open credit cards in comparison, and an average of $25,074 in debt. It’s no wonder that the city’s residents have some of the lowest credit scores in the country—with the unemployment rate at 12.90 percent it’s likely that most living in the Harlingen aren’t pulling in enough income to pay down their debts.

In fact, what Experian’s study showed is that there is a direct correlation between credit scores and unemployment rates. Nine of the top ten cities with the highest credit scores also had unemployment rates below the 9.2 percent national average, according to Experian. Six out of ten of the cities with the lowest average credit scores had unemployment rates above the national average.

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