Loss of employment can quickly bring debt to unsustainable level

After a slow economic recovery, New Mexicans just received the unwelcome news that our unemployment rate is the highest of any state in the country, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Citing the U.S. Department of Labor or DOL as well as state data, the paper reported that the Land of Enchantment’s unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in January, where it has been stuck for months.

Nationally, unemployment was at a healthier average of 4.8 percent. The reasons may be more state specific than regional, as the Journal said that neighboring Colorado was faring better than we are and in the top handful of states at 2.9 percent.

Citing state government sources, the article noted that New Mexico added only 900 jobs, representing 0.1 percent of total jobs in the state, between January 2016 and January 2017. A spokesperson for the New Mexico Economic Development Department cited recent federal budget cuts as well as oil and gas price decreases as reasons for the stagnation. He did speak positively and with hope about new employers in the state like Facebook, Safelite and Keter.

Unemployment and personal financial health

Unfortunately, these state statistics will be reflected in the financial health of our households. When a breadwinner loses a job (or has a medical catastrophe or other personal crisis), for most people, it only takes a few months for the past due bills to add up to a dangerously high level of debt.

When this happens, people may begin to feel afraid and panicky. However, there are answers to this problem. Speak with an attorney about your individual situation to learn about what options may be available to avoid creditors taking action against you like foreclosing on real estate, calling a loan due or in default, repossessing a secured asset like a car, filing a lawsuit against you for money owed, seeking to garnish wages or satisfy a judgment and more.

You may be able to renegotiate or refinance a debt and make payments lower and more manageable. Creditors may be willing to create affordable payment plans or let you skip a payment or two.

Sometimes bankruptcy might be the right answer. Depending on the situation, bankruptcy can help make payments affordable or cancel some debt completely.

At the Albuquerque law office of Giddens & Gatton and P.C., we counsel our clients from across the state about options for debt relief, including bankruptcy.