N.H. among states with least 'financial distress'
A recently released report finds New Hampshire is among the states with the lowest consumer financial distress.The Granite State ranked 42nd among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., making it among the nine states with lowest level of financial hardship among residents, according to CredAbility, a national nonprofit credit counseling and education agency.In its quarterly Consumer Distress Index, CredAbility measures employment, housing, credit and how families manage household budgets and net worth to arrive at a score. An index below 70 on a 100-point scale indicates financial distress.New Hampshire had an index score of 75.05 at the end of the first quarter, which ended March 31. This was a significant improvement from the first quarter of 2010, when the state had a score of 72.03 percent.The nation as a whole scored 68.15 percent for the quarter -- the highest level since the third quarter of 2008, when the country's economic crisis exploded.This time around, New Hampshire ranked fourth-best in the employment metric, with a score of 75.89 percent, and third-best for consumer management of household budgets, with a score of 86.22 percent.But individual metrics that comprise the total score show some signs that New Hampshire residents are still struggling with economic conditions.However, the Granite State's housing measurement was 69.84 percent, or 34th place; its net worth measurement also weighed in toward the middle of the rankings, at 66.42 percent. Almost every state in the country had scores at or below 70 in this category.New Hampshire's credit score was 76.88 percent, eighth-worst in the country, according to the index. Only nine states scored below 80 in this category.North and South Dakota were the least economically stressed states in the country, with total scores of 82.35 percent and 81.23 percent, respectively. Nevada and Georgia have the worst economic conditions according to the index, with scores of 60.78 percent and 62.98 percent.You can view the report and individual state profiles at 1Q 2011 CredAbility Consumer Distress Index. - CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW