Los Angeles among the most financially distressed regions in U.S.

The Los Angeles metropolitan area is among the most financially distressed in the country, according to a new report. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Angelenos are in some of the worst financial distress in the U.S., with the region’s households facing below average credit, housing and employment figures.

A nationwide index measuring the financial health of the average U.S. household is currently at 69.9, a hair under the stable 70 level, according to a report from nonprofit credit counseling agency CredAbility.

Los Angeles’ score is 62.7, placing it as the fifth most financially troubled metropolitan area in the country. Tampa-St. Petersburg is the worst, with a 57.87 rate, followed by Detroit, Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta. At 74.1,Washington, D.C., is the steadiest.

The 39.5 employment score in Los Angeles is the lowest in the nation, putting it deep in “emergency crisis” territory after failing to recover since tanking in 2009, according to CredAbility. In March, the metro area had a 10.9% unemployment rate.

As a state, California’s score improved 1.5 points to 67.88 in the first quarter of 2012. The state has been lambasted in recent reports as being among the least desirable places for businesses small and large.

But according to CredAbility, the states that are least financially fit are Nevada, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi and Florida.

Overall, American consumers are in the best financial shape they have been in since the third quarter of 2008. Rising from 67.6 on the index in the previous quarter, it was the largest quarterly jump of the last seven years.

There were fewer mortgage delinquencies in the first quarter, more jobs and the best credit management in the last 16 years, according to CredAbility. A mild winter kept heating costs reasonable; the rising stock market helped boost consumers’ net worth.

But with high gas prices, Americans are also saving less money and are struggling to pay monthly bills, according to the report.

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