The median net worth among Americans is 20% lower today than it was in 1984, in inflation indexed dollars, and 35.1% of Americans have been referred to collection agencies.
"Roughly, every third person you pass on the street is going to have debt in collections," Ratcliffe said.
On average, the debt sought by collectors is $5,178. On the upside, comparatively little of it is credit card debt; it's mostly down to other unpaid bills, or bills that people have fallen behind in paying - and that's primarily due to the stagnant economy.
Wages have barely kept up with inflation during the five-year recovery, according to Labor Department figures. And a separate measure by Wells Fargo found that after-tax income fell for the bottom 20 percent of earners during the same period.
And there are a couple of other issues that play into this state of affairs: thanks to the redefinition of "full-time employment" under Obamacare mandates, many have found their hours cut to 29 per week. As well, the proliferation of identity theft scams likely accounts for a portion of delinquencies. Costs for energy and food have risen substantially, also driven by Democrat policies.