Indicators of bad economy
We've seen the Florida unemployment rate, but we're wondering if there are other indicators of how bad the economy is here.
The unemployment rate is the best place to start to show how badly things are going in Florida.
Florida's unemployment rate in September was 11.9 percent. The national rate is 9.6 percent. In the Tampa Bay area, the unemployment rate was 12.4 percent.
That 11.9 percent is down from the high of 12.3 the state recorded in March, but it's still the fourth-worst in the United States. Only Nevada (14.4 percent), Michigan (13 percent) and California (12.4 percent) were worse. Hard to believe it has been less than four years since the state's lowest jobless rate: 3.3 percent in May 2006.
Here are a few other indicators that help tell Florida's story:
• Florida is fourth in the nation for the increase in unemployment between September 2009 and September 2010.
• Florida is second in the nation in foreclosure rates, with almost 10 percent of the nation's total.
• State property values have fallen for three consecutive years. In Pinellas, the decline was almost 15 percent this year.
• Florida had the seventh-worst percentage change in food-stamp recipients between July 2009 and July 2010. Almost 2 million Floridians use food stamps.
Payments aren't on credit report
Seven years ago I bought a home for cash, and I later went to a mortgage broker and took out a loan for $75,000, hoping to pay it off quickly and improve my credit rating. I recently went to refinance and found that the payments I am making are not on my credit report — the mortgage company says it doesn't report the payments. Can I force it to report it?
Most lenders do report loan and payment data to one or all of the three credit reporting agencies — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. But there is no law that requires a lender to share information with these private companies, and no way to demand a report be submitted.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act sets the rules for what sort of information must be reported and how often it should be updated if a lender takes part in the voluntary reporting system, said Norm Magnusen of the Consumer Data Industry Association, a trade group.
Some small companies may decide not to report to the agencies if they have a low volume of loans, he suggested, because there is an expense involved in doing so. Borrowers who want their payment history added to their credit reports should ask the lender if it reports to one or more agencies before accepting the loan.
The information on a credit report is used to determine a credit score. Everyone is entitled to a free annual credit report from each agency. See www.annualcreditreport.com for details.