Economics of Liberty

DC Is The Most Financially Illiterate Place In America, Analysis Finds

Blake Neff

A new analysis published by the personal finance website WalletHub finds that Washington, D.C. is more financially illiterate than any of the 50 states.

WalletHub’s analysis looked at 12 metrics related to financial literacy, such as the percent of a state’s residents who have no bank account, the percent that spends more than they earn each month, and how a state’s residents performed on a basic test of personal finance concepts. In addition to strictly financial matters, the analysis also included factors strongly correlated with financial acumen, such as the high school graduate rate.

The results were extremely grim for the nation’s capital. D.C. finished 50th out of 51 in WalletHub’s financial literacy test, and was also held back by the nation’s lowest high school graduation rate, a very high rate of unbanked households, and a significant tendency to make the minimum payment on credit card debt. Overall, on WalletHub’s 100-point scale, D.C. finished with a score of just 51.3, significantly below even the the second-to-last state of Alaska, which had a score of 54.94. (RELATED: Red States Dominate Among Best Cities For Business)

Stuck near D.C. and Alaska in the depths of financial illiteracy were Nevada, Arkansas, and Mississippi. On the other hand, WalletHub found New Hampshire to be the most financially literate state, followed by Minnesota, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. New Hampshire’s status was buoyed by a low rate of payday loan usage, sustainable spending habits, and a high rate of bank usage.

In general, states on the east coast performed better than those out west, and the South performed badly, though Florida and Virginia were high-performing outliers.

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