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Wage Garnishment in the United States: New Facts from Administrative Payroll Records

In the first comprehensive academic analysis of court-ordered wage garnishment, this study finds that garnishment rates nearly doubled from 2014 to 2019 due largely to increases in student loan collections. On average, 11 percent of gross earnings were remitted to creditors, raising concerns about whether unexpected garnishments may perpetuate a cycle of debt. Garnishments are most frequent in neighborhoods with higher percentages of Black residents and fewer college-educated workers, even controlling for income.