Governing and others often discuss a city's economic success by considering metrics such as median income, unemployment rate, or job growth. But a new measure offers a different perspective by analyzing residents' credit scores.
Experian, a credit information company, sampled its data to determine the average credit scores of residents of 143 U.S. cities. The data (see the full set here) reveals clear geographic trends: cities with top scores are almost entirely clustered in the Midwest; those with the worst are in the South and Southwest.
The biggest winner is Wisconsin. Among cities with the 10 best scores, four are within its borders. Meanwhile, Texas fared the worst. Four of the cities with the worst scores are in the Lone Star State.
Overall, average debt nationwide decreased about 1 percent over the last year to $24,542, according to Experian. (Scroll down to map.)
View Credit Scores By City in a full screen map
The survey offers some interesting twists. Residents of the Wausau, Wis., area, for example, have household incomes that are $8,000 below the U.S. average, according to the latest Census estimates, indicating that a good credit score isn't entirely tied to high income.
In Harlingen, Texas, conversely, the low ranking isn't a surprise. Its poverty rate, more than 30 percent, is more than twice the national average.
Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus. Credit scores range from 501 to 990. Scores are based on how much debt a person takes on and how timely it is paid off, among other factors. The scores were tabulated from January through June of this year.