The June jobs report brought good news for American workers, as it showed that the U.S. added 4.8 million nonfarm payroll jobs during the month, exceeding expert projections. This demonstrates that the process of reopening states has had a positive impact, and many workers who were temporarily laid off while their employers remained closed are now being rehired. However, some states are temporarily pausing their reopening processes due to COVID-19 spikes, which is necessary but may slow down job growth in the near future. There are still 17.8 million Americans unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in total. Last week, there were 1.3 million new unemployment claims nationwide, compared to 6.9 million during the peak of the pandemic (an 81% reduction).
To identify which states’ workforces are experiencing the quickest recovery from COVID-19, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three metrics based on changes in unemployment claims. Read on for the results, additional commentary from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
Tax Day can be a painful reminder of how much we have to invest in federal, state and local governments, though many of us are unaware of exactly what they give us in return. As a result, this creates a disconnect in the minds of taxpayers between the amount of money we should fork over in April – or July, as is the case this year due to COVID-19 – and how much we deserve in return.
Perhaps that’s why, according to WalletHub’s Taxpayer Survey, 60 percent of U.S. adults feel they pay too much in taxes and why 88 percent don’t think that the government uses tax revenue wisely. We do know, however, that taxpayer return on investment, or ROI, varies based where one lives. Federal income-tax rates are uniform across the nation, yet some states receive far more federal funding than others. Different states have also received vastly different amounts of COVID-19 aid this year.
All states have at least partially reopened after keeping non-essential businesses closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some states have recently chosen to pause their reopening processes due to spikes in the disease. In order to determine the states with the fewest coronavirus restrictions, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 18 key metrics. Our data set ranges from whether child-care programs and restaurants have reopened to whether the state has required face masks in public and workplace temperature screenings. Read on for the state ranking, additional insight from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
Buying a home for the first time is an exciting and important milestone for many Americans. Their purchases make up a sizable chunk of the market, too. In the fourth quarter of 2019, 39% of all U.S. single-family home purchases were made by first-time buyers. This year, though, Americans may be conflicted on whether it’s a good time to purchase a first home. While many people have been financially hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, mortgage interest rates have also hit record lows.
For people willing to take the risk to invest in a house this year, the search for a first home requires careful consideration of a number of factors. Buyers must balance what they want and need with what they can afford. Often, people begin searching for their dream homes without a realistic idea of market prices, interest rates or even their eligibility to get a mortgage.
The COVID-19 pandemic was disastrous for U.S. employment, but as states start to reopen their economies, the job market is showing signs of healing. The national unemployment rate is currently at 13.3%, which is 10% lower than the peak of 14.7% during the height of the pandemic. While cities across the country are expanding the types of businesses that are open in accordance with their states’ guidelines, it will likely take a long time for the unemployment rate to return to the historic low it experienced prior to the coronavirus crisis. Some cities’ jobs have weathered the storm better than others, though.
In order to identify where workers have been most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, WalletHub compared 180 cities based on three key metrics. We looked at the change in each city’s unemployment rate during the latest month for which we have data (May 2020) compared to May 2019 and January 2020. We also considered each city’s overall unemployment rate. Read on for the results, additional commentary from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
Americans value independence. We fought hard for it during the American Revolutionary War, and in the present day, we celebrate not only our freedom from the British crown but also our strong ability to rely upon ourselves as individuals. However, this year has been an especially big test of our independence, as Americans have been forced to stay much more isolated from others than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the financial hardship resulting from the pandemic, many people have become at least temporarily more dependent on the federal government, which has given out trillions of dollars in aid to individuals, as well as to state and local governments. Other people have become more dependent on personal vices, such as drinking and drugs, during the time of self-isolation.
In order to find out where Americans are the most self-reliant despite coronavirus, WalletHub compared the 50 states based on five sources of dependency: consumer finances, the government, the job market, international trade and personal vices. We broke down these categories into 39 key indicators of independence in order to determine which states are most self-sustaining. Read on for our findings, methodology and expert advice on overcoming our reliance on others.
You can’t get an accurate sense of the consumer debt situation without considering credit card delinquency and charge-off rates. These metrics speak to the sustainability of consumer spending habits, indicating the ability of credit card users to stay current on their bills. For example, high delinquency rates may foreshadow a rash of defaults as well as the potential for a downturn in the economy, while a downward trend in default rates could indicate economic or habitual improvement.
Furthermore, consumers continue to owe charged-off debt for years, which means ignoring such sums will paint a misleading picture of the debt landscape.
The coronavirus pandemic is one of the deadliest health crises the U.S. has ever faced. The social distancing restrictions put in place by states have proven effective, but while deaths from COVID-19 have been on an overall downward trend since May, states must be wary of any spikes as they reopen and adjust their plans accordingly.
States’ COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalization rates and death rates are not only vital from both a public health standpoint but also from an economic perspective because they dictate the pace at which areas can safely reopen for business. Until the potential benefits outweigh the health risks, states will not be able to move to their next phases of reopening, and thus will not see substantial economic growth.
The first half of 2020 has been a true test of the effectiveness of local leadership. City leaders have been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for months, and now many are tasked with keeping the peace while respecting people’s rights to demonstrate as protests against police brutality surge across the nation. People in local positions of power will undoubtedly feel extra pressure to please the public this year, as the November election will determine whether many of them keep their seats.
Even when the U.S. isn’t in a time of crisis, running a city is a tall order. The larger the city, the more complex it becomes to manage. In addition to representing the residents, local leaders must balance the public’s diverse interests with the city’s limited resources. That often means not everyone’s needs can or will be met. Leaders must carefully consider which services are most essential, which agencies’ budgets to cut or boost and whether and how much to raise taxes, among other decisions.
The Verdict: The Total VISA® Credit Card is the opposite of the complete package, charging an arm and a leg for a small unsecured credit line. Newly approved applicants have to pay an $89* program fee just to open a Total VISA® Credit Card account, and then there is a $75 membership fee the first year, which jumps to a total of $123 in subsequent years between annual and monthly fees. Furthermore, if you carry a balance from month to month — supposedly what this type of card is intended for — interest will accrue at a ridiculously high 34.99% APR, one of the highest rates on the market.
What you get in return for this significant investment is $225 of spending power and a chance to improve your credit if you behave well. But all credit cards provide the latter, most at a much cheaper price point. And there are less expensive ways to get an emergency loan, too. You would therefore be wise to focus on the Total VISA®’s top competition when reading the rest of our in-depth review below.
The Verdict: The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is an attractive everyday spending vehicle for people with excellent credit. Things begin on a positive note, with no annual fee to worry about and the ability to earn a $200 initial bonus for spending just $1,000 in the first 90 days after account opening.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card even supplements its base 1% cash-back earning rate with 2% back on groceries and wholesale clubs and 3% back on a category of your choosing. But there’s a catch. Those bonus earning rates apply to only the first $2,500 in combined grocery, wholesale clubs and gas purchases each quarter. So if you spend more than $833 a month on such everyday necessities, you will wind up hitting that limit and earning only 1% back — slightly less than the market average of 1.07% — on all your purchases for the rest of the quarter.
The Verdict: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a great option for high-spending frequent travelers who spend a lot of time in airport lounges. On the bright side, it offers an initial bonus worth $750 as well as the points equivalent of 4.5% cash back on travel and dining. Sapphire Reserve also gives you a $300 annual travel credit and complimentary access to a network of 1,000+ airport lounges.
There are a few downsides, though. Chase Sapphire Reserve charges one of the highest annual fees on the market, at $550. Reserve’s annual travel credit and airport-lounge membership can offset most of that fixed cost. But you have to travel to make it work. Not only that, but you also have to book your travel through Chase to get maximum value for your rewards points. Furthermore, as is the case with most rewards cards, you need to pay your bill in full every month. Sapphire Reserve’s high APR will wind up eating away at your earnings if you don’t. You also need excellent credit to qualify, which is a deal breaker for roughly 60% of people, according to WalletHub data.
Monthly earnings are lost when bill payments are late
Not built for financing
The Verdict: It’s already in the travel rewards hall of fame and continues to be one of the best offers out there. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has long served as the standard-bearer for a more straightforward credit card market, with its double miles, lucrative initial rewards bonus and lack of foreign transaction fees helping to set pro-consumer trends amid a landscape previously characterized by general shadiness.
It’s ultimately no wonder why Venture has been praised by users and emulated by competitors, as WalletHub research reveals that it has the potential to yield the average spender roughly $1,500 in rewards over the first two years of ownership. The key is to redeem Venture Miles to pay for travel-related transactions once they post to your account. Not only does this give you the best redemption rate, but is also eliminates much of the red tape common with travel credit cards – allowing you to focus on finding the best deal, no matter which airline, hotel or travel comparison site offers it.
The Verdict: Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is among the very best credit cards for bouncing back from bad credit. For one thing, it doesn’t charge annual or monthly fees, which is relatively rare for a “bad credit” credit card. Its initial security deposit also figures to be less taxing on your cash flow than that required by most other secured credit cards.
That’s because this Capital One gem is partially-secured, which means your credit line may exceed the amount of your refundable deposit, whereas fully-secured credit cards provide a spending limit equal to your deposit in order to eliminate risk. If approved, you will be required to place a deposit of $49, $99 or $200. In other words, you could get a $200 spending limit for a deposit of only $49, but you may also be required to deposit $200 for a $200 limit. It all depends on the specifics of your credit history and the current state of your finances.
The Verdict: The USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card makes it cheaper to put food on the table and gas in your car's tank. It offers 3 points per $1 spent when you dine out, 2 points per $1 spent on groceries and gas, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. Plus, you get a 2,500-point bonus simply for making your first purchase. There's no annual fee, either.
In other words, the USAA Rewards Amex is $20 per year cheaper than the average credit card and rewards you up to three times more for making purchases.
Choice between 5% or 0% purchase financing on select purchases
$40 initial bonus
High regular APR
0% financing includes deferred interest
The Verdict: Sears, a nationwide retailer perhaps best known for its appliances and a shrinking store count, appears to have already thrown in the towel as far as its eponymous credit cards are concerned. Neither the Sears Mastercard Credit Card nor the the Sears Store Card charge an annual fee, but that’s pretty much the best thing going for the store card.
The Sears Mastercard — the better of the two offers, considering you need “good” credit for approval versus just “fair/limited” credit for the store-only version — gives you a $40 initial bonus (applied as statement credit) for spending $50 in the first 30 days. Beyond that, you’ll receive ongoing rewards between 10 and 50 points, which work as 1% to 5% back.
Voluntary repossession is when someone surrenders their vehicle in order to avoid having it taken from them after falling behind on the payments for an auto loan or lease. It basically amounts to a last-ditch effort to earn leniency from creditors, debt collectors and the major credit bureaus. By saving the collecting party the effort of having to locate and repossess a vehicle, the thinking goes, the debtor might curry some valuable favor – perhaps in the form of forgiven interest charges, more favorable status reports sent to the credit bureaus, or better odds of credit approval in the future. But that thinking is flawed.
While voluntary repossession may provide some modest benefits in certain situations, it won’t do much to help your credit. By the time vehicle repossession becomes a real possibility, the bulk of the credit damage will already have been done, thanks to numerous missed payments and the fact that repossession doesn’t happen in a vacuum, to people in otherwise perfect financial shape. That means other derogatory marks on your credit report are also likely to limit any potential benefit of voluntary repossession.
0% offers include dangerous deferred-interest clause
High regular APR
The Verdict: It all comes down to your credit standing and whether you’re willing to pay $99 a year for Amazon Prime. If you’re not already a member or you’re unwilling to join, stop reading and instead consider the Amazon.com Credit Card. The store-only version won’t give you anything but a $10 gift card.
But anyone with a Prime membership should waste no time in submitting an application, as that status scores you an upgrade to the Amazon Prime Store Card and 5% cash back on every purchase that you make, redeemable for a statement credit. That’s an excellent deal, and our overall rating for this card assumes that you qualify.
The Verdict: The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever is a very good 0% credit card for people with good credit. Citi Simplicity offers intro rates of 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, 0% for 18 months on new purchases and has a $0 annual fee. The interest-free period that the Simplicity Card provides for balance transfers is five months longer than average. That gives you plenty of time to pay off credit card debt without it getting more and more expensive along the way.
The downside is that Citi Simplicity charges a balance transfer fee of 3% (min $5). Plus, its regular APR is pretty high, at 14.74% to 24.74% (V), depending on your creditworthiness. Simplicity might still be the best balance transfer credit card for you. It all depends on how big your balance is and how much you can afford to pay per month.
The Verdict: The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is one of the best starter credit cards on the market, particularly for those who lack an active college or university email address. Access to student-branded offers expands your options quite a bit in an otherwise uncompetitive segment of the market, but that could be construed as a moot point when you consider that Capital One Platinum offers the very two things that people with limited credit need most: approvability and no annual fee.
When you have fair or limited credit, there’s no sense in shooting above your station and applying for a credit card that requires good or excellent credit for approval. That would only serve to make approval for a more suitable card more elusive after you get declined. There’s also no reason to pay for plastic if you can avoid it, as doing so won’t yield fruitful-enough terms to be worthwhile until you have above-average credit. Instead, you should open a credit card as soon as possible to get positive information flowing into your credit reports, and if you can find one with no fee, all the better.