In a recent Anchorage Daily News, the above-the-fold headline read Economy's woes nipping at Alaska
Among other statistics cited, some not particularly alarming -- average single family house prices are unchanged from 2007, and up on 2006 -- there is this: Alaska has the highest average debt on each credit card in the US: $2486, compared to the US Average of $1742. This is supposedly a Bad Thing.
Oddly, the story neglected to mention where Alaska stands in US rankings for income.
I will help them, despite the considerable research sacrifice.
(Hack stop watch. 83 seconds later ...)Alaska is 4th, with a median income of $64,333, compared to the US median of $50,740.
To give these numbers a little perspective, the per-credit card debt is about $280 higher than the proportional income difference.
Among other things the story neglected to mention, either with respect to the US or Alaska, was the number of credit cards per credit card holder.
(Hack stop watch. 97 seconds later ...)
That would be 1.78 (164 million credit card holders, 292 million active credit cards).
That makes for $3000 in US average credit card debt.
While I have singled out the ADN, The Economist is no better; a story of several months ago cited around $3000 in average credit card debt, but made no effort to put that in the context of income, or how much of that "debt" was merely using a credit card instead of cash for most, if not essentially all, transactions.
Extending my previous "needs some 'splainin" posts (here
), is this a problem?
The tenor of this, and all other similar articles, is doom spiced with gloom: the level of indebtedness will both worsen and prolong the recession. In context, the level of credit card debt seems rather less than apocalyptic; however, the absence of defined terms -- credit card as cash substitute, for just one instance -- quickly erodes any ability to make sense of the stories.
Which makes me wonder how the journalists manage to convince themselves they are saying anything worth reading.
So, as with the savings rate, where I still dunno, I dunno.