Because credit card debt is so common in the United States, many people fail to see the debt as a problem until it has snowballed. Credit is useful and invaluable in many situations, but sometimes life intervenes and circumstances change in ways that make repaying incurred debt difficult if not impossible. Examples of such circumstances include job loss or reduced hours, health emergencies, unexpected family additions, or the need to provide care for a loved one. For many people with high levels of credit card debt and limited income, the problems extend beyond financial stress to include delinquent payments (and the resulting late fees) and creditor harassment.
Even though the recession may be officially over, many people--especially New York residents--carefully watch financial indicators to assess the strength of the economy and whether the rebound will continue. Statistics relating to credit card debt are commonly studied because they can provide data on how well American households are faring financially and how they are spending--or not spending--their money.