The Hattiesburg American, 3/17/8

Mississippi leads the nation in the number of people who are late making their monthly mortgage payments, a problem that affects the real estate and banking industries, a state economist said.

Eleven percent of mortgage loans in Mississippi were delinquent in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association report.

Mississippi also scored in the top 20 with 5.28 percent of seriously delinquent loans and the state’s foreclosure rate is 2.14 percent for the quarter.

“What’s happening here is not confined to the real estate market,” said Marianne Hill, senior economist for the Center for Policy Research in Jackson. “It’s also about the financial sector and how this is going to affect lenders.”