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Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 11:06am

Georgia 2nd In Financial Distress

Georgia households are among the most financially distressed in the country.

A new analysis by credit counseling group CredAbility found Georgians are still struggling with high unemployment and low home values, and only people in Nevada feel more stretched financially than we do.

The Consumer Distress Index looks at employment, housing, credit, net worth and how families manage their budgets. Georgia fell below the nation in every category.

CredAbility’s John McCosh said all of those factors are tied to job growth. Recent announcements of 1,400 jobs at a new Caterpillar plant near Athens and 1,500 jobs at a new pharmaceutical plant east of Atlanta are good news, he said. But they’re just the beginning.

“It’s going to take more than 1,500 jobs in one corner of the state to turn things around and help the average consumer feel like they’re in a stable place,” McCosh said.

Georgia State University economic forecaster Rajeev Dhawan said the state ranked poorly because the recession here was worse than most other states.

“That affects your income ability, your ability to service your debt on housing and other stuff, which in turn means more foreclosures and delinquencies, which in turn means lower home prices,” Dhawan said. “As your home values suffer, then your wealth goes down and you look bad on this index.”

State labor officials announced Thursday that companies created 32,000 jobs last month. But other data released Thursday shows Georgia’s foreclosure rate remains one of the highest in the nation.

McCosh said the good news is Georgians are saving more and their net worth looks better because their retirement accounts and investments have improved with the stock market.