States with The Biggest Debt Burdens

A new study by Kaplan shows that the average monthly search for “debt relief” on Google has grown by 49% in the past year, highlighting a national concern about managing financial obligations. This study identifies the states facing the most significant challenges and those with a potentially healthier financial landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • Search interest for “debt relief” on Google remained high throughout the past 12 months with an increase of 49% in average monthly search, indicating a persistent concern about debt burdens.
  • New York is the state with the most searches for “debt relief” with an average of 12 searches per month for 100,000 residents, followed by Nevada and California.
  • With six searches per month for 100,000 residents, Vermont is the state searching the least for debt relief, followed by West Virginia and Maine.
  • Debt-to-income ratio data reveals that, per capita, Hawaii is the state struggling the most with debt, while New York has the lowest debt-to-income ratio.

Search Interest for Debt Relief

Data from the last 12 months on Google Trends, the search interest has remained consistently high and the absolute number of searches grew by 49% during that time frame. Interestingly, the United States leads the world in searches related to debt relief, highlighting the national significance of this issue.

Further analysis reveals significant variations in average monthly search per capita across different states. 

Debt-to-Income Ratio

The debt-to-income ratio is a crucial metric that reflects a household’s ability to manage its debt burden. It represents the total debt a household owes compared to its gross monthly income. A higher ratio indicates a greater risk of financial strain.

Nevada, which showed a high search interest for debt relief, appears on this list of states with the highest debt-to-income ratios. This suggests a potential correlation between high debt-to-income ratios and increased concern about debt relief options.

States with the Highest Debt-to-Income Ratio: 

  1. Hawaii 2.06 debt-to-income ratios
  2. Idaho 2.06 debt-to-income ratios
  3. Arizona 1.84 debt-to-income ratios
  4. Colorado 1.84 debt-to-income ratios
  5. Nevada 1.84 debt-to-income ratios

States with the Lowest Debt-to-Income Ratio:

  1. New York 0.4 debt-to-income ratios
  2. Illinois 1.11 debt-to-income ratios
  3. Ohio 1.11 debt-to-income ratios
  4. North Dakota 1.11 debt-to-income ratios
  5. Iowa 1.11 debt-to-income ratios

The analysis of Google search data and state-level debt-to-income ratios reveals a concerning trend of debt struggles across the United States.  While some states appear to be more burdened by debt than others, the national interest in debt relief highlights a pressing need for accessible solutions.


We used Google Keyword planner to analyze the average number of searches per month related to “debt relief” across the US and specific states for the past 12 months (June 2023 – May 2024). We also used Google Trends data to analyze search interes. The data was retrieved between May 23 and May 30, 2024. Debt-to-income ratio data was obtained on state-level debt-to-income ratios from the Federal Reserve.

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