The State of the Union: How Credit Scores Fare During Election Years

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Election years are a great time to sit back and reflect on the four previous years, to see how far we’ve come or what might still need improving.  Right now as the 2012 election approaches,  it’s almost impossible to ignore the campaign rhetoric and all of the talk about the state of the economy.  The research team over here at Direct Capital took a look at average FICO credit scores, a great indicator for overall economic health, for each state for each election year following 2000.

So how are we doing?

The answer may surprise you. Even in our current down economy, the majority of states had higher average scores than they did in previous years.  During the 2008 election, the majority of people were more hopeful about the state of the economy and more optimistic about the outlook for jobs, yet 2012’s scores are still significantly higher.

What gives?  This could have something to do with the greater focus on credit scores over the last couple of years.  Today’s public is more knowledgeable about the importance of a good credit score, what this could mean for them financially, and how to improve it.  Though good news, the new higher scores are dulled by the fact that many lenders have also increased their credit requirements.

This year, Nebraska and Arkansas have the highest scores with 750 and 746 respectively, while DC came in the lowest at 703. Overall however, North Dakota is the big winner with the highest average score (they even boasted an impressive 784 back in 2004).  Praise is also due to Minnesota, the only state to consistently earn a score in the in the top 25% of states.

See the graphic below for a full breakdown of scores. (Click to enlarge).

Is your business credit better now than it was four years ago?