The recession of 2008 slammed the American economy like a hurricane, leaving many citizens in a heap of financial rubble.
More than 10 years later, some folks have bounced back better than others — and according to a new report, it’s older Americans who have been slowest to recover.
New data by consumer credit agency Experian identifies a 40-point drop between 2008 and 2018 in the average credit score for consumers older than 72. The average credit score for that demographic fell from 772 to 732.
That tumble was the largest among all age groups, and considerably more than the second-biggest dip, 17 points among Americans age 51 to 71.
Experian based its data on the VantageScore, a credit rating developed and utilized by Experian in conjunction with fellow consumer credit companies TransUnion and Equifax.
VantageScore has a range of 300-850, with the higher the number the better the credit. According to Experian a score of 600 to 660 is “fair,” while 661 to 780 is “good,” and 781 and up is considered “excellent.
Why were the oldest consumers hit the hardest? Kelley Motley, senior director of analytics at Experian, told MarketWatch she believes older Americans typically carry higher amounts of revolving debt on their credit and retail cards. They also use fewer cards, drawing on those same lines of credit more often, which can hurt credit scores.
Other analysts believe the impact of retirees not being able to keep up with living costs on a fixed income, the increased possibility of a major health issue, the sudden death of a spouse, and a longer life expectancy all contribute to an increasingly combustible financial outlook for seniors.
It’s also worth mentioning that a credit score of 732 is still considered good.
Overall, the Experian data shows several encouraging signs for the health of U.S. credit: Scores are rising for most Americans, and unemployment is low. Considering the catastrophic financial collapse of 2008, conditions could be a lot worse.