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Most and Least Debt-Ridden Places in Ohio

Ohio is home to about 11.7 million people and struggles with high unemployment and low incomes. That means debt may be a greater burden for the typical Ohioan when compared to residents of other states.

To understand which Ohio areas are struggling most with their money, we looked at non-mortgage debt across 36 cities in the Buckeye State. (Non-mortgage debt includes student loans, auto loans, personal loans and credit cards.) Here’s what we found.

Key findings

  • Delaware, Ohio takes the top spot with median non-mortgage debt averaging nearly $31,000. Auto debt and student loans were the city’s biggest chunks of debt at $12,200 and $9,600 a piece.
  • Medina takes second by a fair distance. The average non-mortgage debt in Medina was nearly $26,000, or roughly $5,000 less than Delaware. However, like the top contender, auto debt was the largest line item on residents’ debt sheets, amounting to nearly $10,400.
  • Mentor, Ohio comes in at No. 3, right behind Medina at $25,700.
  • The three cities ranked at the bottom, Marion, Lorain and Zanesville all have about half the non-mortgage debt as the cities ranked at the top of this list.
  • Student loan debt and auto loan debt were the two largest debt types. In 19 Ohio cities, for example, auto debt was the largest category, while in 17 cities student loan debt was the largest category.
  • Gen Xers and millennials were the two generations that tended to have the most non-mortgage debt. In 31 analyzed cities, Gen Xers were the generation with the most debt; in the other five, millennials held the most debt. On average, across the 36 cities analyzed, millennials had a median non-mortgage debt load of $20,200, Gen Xers had a median non-mortgage debt load of $24,900 and baby boomers had non-mortgage debt amounting to $17,300.
  • While auto debt and student loan debt were the two largest debt categories for Ohioans, auto debt was much more common compared to student loan debt. Roughly 58% of residents across the analyzed cities had auto debt, while just 29% had student loan debt.

Ohio cities carrying the most non-mortgage debt

The five most debt-ridden cities in Ohio each had anywhere from about $25,000 to $31,000 in non-mortgage debt. That’s especially high compared with the median household income, which sits at just over $52,000 as of 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (Nearly 14% of state residents are considered to be living in poverty, too.)


Across the board, both credit cards and personal loans generally made up the smallest debt categories, while student and auto loans comprised the largest debt categories for Ohioans. And auto loans were most commonly cited as the largest debt category for cities included in this study.

Gen Xers tended to carry the most debt in the cities that landed at the top of this list for most debt (though millennials also earned that title in certain areas.) That goes against conventional wisdom that individuals who earn more tend to have less debt as they gain work experience and knowledge.

1. Delaware

  • Auto debt: $12,172.89
  • Credit card debt: $5,923.22
  • Personal loan debt: $3,140.80
  • Student loan debt: $9,625.60

Delaware is, by a wide margin, the most debt-ridden city in Ohio, with debt amounts totaling over $30,000. The largest debt category here was auto debt, which constituted almost 40% of total non-mortgage debt.

Despite high debt among residents, Delaware ranked middle of the pack in a LendingTree study on the best places in Ohio for young families.

2. Medina

  • Auto debt: $10,383.16
  • Credit card debt: $5,967.11
  • Personal loan debt: $2,822.26
  • Student loan debt: $6,745.98

Compared to Delaware, Medina residents carried about $3,000 less student debt, in addition to having less auto and personal loan debt. Credit card debt, however, did slightly exceed that of Delaware’s average, though not by much.

3. Mentor

  • Auto debt: $9,103.33
  • Credit card debt: $5,218.03
  • Personal loan debt: $3,702.39
  • Student loan debt: $7,735.25

Mentor’s non-mortgage debt figures closely mirror that of Medina. Though it’s worth noting that the primary differences there came from auto debt, which was at least $1,000 lower than that of the second-place city. This is also the first city on this list where residents had an average of less than $10,000 in auto loan debt. That aside, however, Mentor had higher averages for both personal loan debt and student debt, which each topped Medina’s figures by $900, or more.

4. Hilliard

  • Auto debt: $8,245.76
  • Credit card debt: $4,528.38
  • Personal loan debt: $2,784.28
  • Student loan debt: $9,680.59

Millennials, rather than Gen Xers, are taking on the most non-mortgage debt in Hilliard. Residents here had less overall average auto and personal loan debt, as well as credit card debt, than those who lived in the higher-ranking debt-ridden cities. However, Hilliard residents did average student loan figures close to that of Delaware.

5. Grove City

  • Auto debt: $8,380.91
  • Credit card debt: $4,204.40
  • Personal loan debt: $2,617.74
  • Student loan debt: $9,985.95

Following closely behind Hilliard, Grove City residents’ median debt figures were nearly identical, including only slight elevations for the city’s median auto and student loan debt figures. Local millennials emerged as the generation which had the largest non-mortgage debt amounts here.

Ohio cities carrying the least non-mortgage debt

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the least debt-ridden cities in Ohio, which include Marion, Lorain, Zanesville, Springfield and Dayton. Within these cities, median total debts ranged from about $13,000 to $16,000.

In most cases, auto loan debts still comprised the largest proportion of median non-mortgage debt. But in a couple of these cities, Zanesville and Dayton, average student loan debts outweighed auto loan debt.

36. Marion

  • Auto debt: $4,648.56
  • Credit card debt: $2,406.58
  • Personal loan debt: $1,392.16
  • Student loan debt: $4,580.70

Marion earns the title of least debt-ridden city in Ohio, with a total of just over $13,000 in non-mortgage debts. The city follows the same trend in other Ohio areas — where auto loan and student loan debt outweighed other debt categories. Nevertheless, no single debt category had an average debt loan above $5,000.

35. Lorain

  • Auto debt: $5,196.04
  • Credit card debt: $2,253.17
  • Personal loan debt: $2,365.18
  • Student loan debt: $4,149.61

Millennials have the unfortunate distinction of being the generation dealing with the most non-mortgage debt in this area. Compared to Marion, overall auto loan and personal loan debts here were slightly higher, while the average credit card and student loan debts were slightly lower.

34. Zanesville

  • Auto debt: $5,127.36
  • Credit card debt: $2,084.24
  • Personal loan debt: $2,296.59
  • Student loan debt: $5,449.32

Zainesville returns to the trend of Gen Xers holding the largest amount of non-mortgage debt. Residents here also had the least average credit card debt compared to the other four least debt-ridden cities in the state. Setting it further apart, however, is the fact that student loan debt, rather than auto loan debt, proved the largest debt category among residents.

33. Springfield

  • Auto debt: $6,439.95
  • Credit card debt: $2,363.64
  • Personal loan debt: $1,721.71
  • Student loan debt: $5,233.21

Among the five cities with the lowest overall debt among residents, the Springfield area has the highest auto loan debt, with an average of over $6,000. On the plus side, Springfield has the second-lowest average personal loan debt among these five cities (Marion claims the No. 1 spot).

32. Dayton

  • Auto debt: $5,702.39
  • Credit card debt: $2,719.56
  • Personal loan debt: $1,637.63
  • Student loan debt: $6,136.42

Dayton is another area where average student loan debt outweighs that of auto loan debt. And while residents boast the lowest overall personal loan debt figures, compared with the other least debt-ridden cities in the state, they also have the highest average credit card debt of those five cities.

Methodology

Using an anonymized sample of more than 40,000 users, researchers calculated total debt balances with data from the second quarter of 2019. These results were then aggregated to the Ohio cities with a population of at least 10,000 to calculate median non-mortgage debt obligation. Included in this analysis, researchers also found the average distribution of debts across the following debt types: auto, credit cards, personal loans and student.

 

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