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Which Metropolitan Areas Are the Most "Financially Fit?"
(ORLANDO, Fla.) January 18, 2005 - A new study by InCharge®Institute of America, a nonprofit organization specializing in personal finance education, research and credit counseling, ranks 314 U.S. metropolitan areas to determine which are leading the nation in personal "financial fitness." The study looks at how different population centers measure up in offering the economic climate and conditions that promote financial fitness for its citizens. The results of this study are being presented today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
"Consumer Financial Fitness in Metropolitan Areas," the study performed by the research team at InCharge® Education Foundation, ranked the Wilmington/Newark Delaware metropolitan area first in the nation, both overall and among America's largest population centers (in excess of 500,000 citizens). Trenton, New Jersey topped the ranks for mid-sized metro areas (NULL,000 to 500,000 population), and Bloomington/Normal, Illinois scored the highest among smaller regions (fewer than 200,000 citizens). (See attached tables listing the top ten metro areas in each category).
The study was conducted in late 2004 and examined 314 metropolitan areas across the three population categories. The analysis utilized five factors to define and measure "financial fitness:"
- Real personal disposable income - Total personal income minus personal current taxes. This is the amount ultimately available to families for personal expenditures and savings.
- Employment opportunities - Since wages and salaries produce most of personal income, employment is an important indicator of financial success - not only at the family level, but also on a local and national level. It can be expected that greater financial fitness will be associated with areas with higher employment opportunities.
- Credit worthiness - How well is consumer income covering consumer expenditures and debts? What is the debt to income ratio? Excessive consumer debt is the largest threat to economic wellbeing. For this study, 2003 Equifax average Beacon credit scores were used to determine the credit worthiness of a metropolitan area.
- Levels of savings - Savings is one of the most important indicators of financial wellness. Savings buys financial security. Domestic deposits held or accepted in FDIC insured c