Profitable portfolio segments may exist in some unlikely places

December 8, 2010 by Kelly Kent

A recent article in the USA Today titled, “Jobs rebound will be slow”*, outlines state-by-state forecasts for the United States, as released by Moody’s Economy.com. Although the national forecasted increase, 0.9%, reflects the expectation that unemployment will remain an issue throughout 2011, the state-level detail possesses interesting variances that should be further considered by lenders in determining their marketing and acquisition strategies. What I find intriguing, is that Moody’s forecasts job growth for several states that since the beginning of the housing decline have been the hot-spots for mortgage default and high delinquency rates. Moody’s projects job growth for Florida (+2.5%), Nevada (+1.5%), and California (+0.5%) – the so called “sand states” – with comparable growth rates to states like Texas (+2.5%) and North Carolina (+1.3%), which have not experienced the same notoriety for increased risk levels and delinquency.

Should this growth transpire, then these states that have been the center of credit risk in recent years will soon become centers of opportunity for lenders, as increased employment should result in decreasing delinquency rates, improved repayment habits, and a generally more creditworthy consumer population. This shift is important, since any economic recovery will start with jobs growth, leading to increased lending, which will drive housing and a broader economic growth. As I noted above, the Moody’s forecast implies that lenders who are looking to drive growth may find that profitable portfolio segments exist in some of what appear to be the unlikeliest places.