Consumer Finances in Rural Appalachia
Twenty-six million people live in the Appalachian region, which includes parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and all of West Virginia. Thirty-three percent of Appalachians live in rural counties, more than double the national proportion of 14 percent. Over 2 million people live in Appalachian Persistent Poverty Counties (PPCs).
Many rural Appalachians face persistent challenges in the consumer financial marketplace. On average, rural Appalachians earn less than other rural people across the country and significantly less than non-rural consumers. Rural Appalachians are more likely to have a subprime or deep subprime credit score compared to all consumers nationally and consumers in the rest of rural America, which typically leads to a higher cost of credit. Rural Appalachians are also more likely than consumers in other parts of the country to have medical debt collections on their credit record. This report is intended to provide a starting point in better understand the needs and challenges of consumers in rural Appalachia.