Experian, one of the United States’ big three credit reporting agencies, has compiled a list of the top cities in terms of average credit scores. Surprising to some, the best credit scores were centered in the Midwest with two of the five best in Wisconsin.

What Is Average Credit Score and Debt Level in the U.S.?

Experian found that the average credit score is 749. In contrast, a score over 800 is excellent while the highest possible credit score is about 850. The average debt load is around $24,542. However, this debt load is based on credit lines and credit cards reported to credit reporting agencies. This average debt doesn’t include personal loans, title loans or payday loans.

The Top 5 Best: Wausau, Wisconsin

Wausau, Wisconsin hit the top of Experian’s list with a credit score of 789. The average personal debt was about $22,439, about two thousand less than the national average.

Second Place: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis was the only city outside of Wisconsin to make the top five cities in terms of credit score. It’s average credit score was 787. Average personal debt was $24,994, slightly above the national average. Minnesota’s unemployment rate of 5.6n May, 2012 certainly helped its people retain their high credit scores.

Third Place: Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin has placed in Experian’s list for several years in a row. It was second place last year, knocked off by Minneapolis this year. Madison’s average credit score was 785 while personal debt was $23,533.

Fourth Place: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, fell from third place to fourth place this year but is still in the top five with an average credit score of 781. The average personal debt is $23,628.

Fifth Place: San Francisco, California

San Francisco is the only coastal city to make this list, enjoying an average credit score of 781. This is even more surprising in the face of the city’s economic slump and California’s budgetary woes.

Why Did The Midwest Score So High?

These credit scores are not simply a matter of employment figures. Wisconsin enjoys a 6.80nemployment rate as of May, 2012, and it has had an unemployment rate one to two points lower than the national average. When people have jobs, they have an easier time paying their bills. However, Wisconsin and the Midwest in general score better than states like Texas and North Dakota which have better employment figures because of the natural thrift of the population.

The Midwest has benefited from slow growth in employment and population. It never suffered an economic boom and bust that has devastated states like Nevada. The Midwest employs many people in agriculture, an area that has boomed along with a growing national and world population. The Midwest is also a center of the services economy, from insurance companies like Metlife and UnitedHealth Group. Employment has been steady or growing in sectors like education and the medical field with giants like the Mayo Clinic, which is based in Minnesota. These industries and others like transportation and manufacturing have given the Midwest higher than average wages without suffering the horrific cuts of consumer spending based industries like tourism and automotive manufacturing.

This is a Guest Post.

About the Author: Rick Abelmann is an attorney at Abelmann Law, a Honolulu bankruptcy firm helping people recover their credit scores from tight financial situations.