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The amount of credit card debt carried by consumers in areas most plagued with high balances fell considerably between the end of 2010 and 2011.

Of the 100 metropolitan areas with the highest card balances as a percentage of annual income, nearly 60 percent saw significant declines in those debts over the course of 2011, according to new data from the credit reporting bureau Equifax. In all, the states with the most cities that saw these declines were Florida, Louisiana, California and Washington, where the recent economic downturn hit particularly hard. Florida led the way with five cities seeing the most significant declines.

The Florida areas of Port St. Lucie and Ocala saw the biggest drops of all, at 23.59 percent and 20.97 percent, respectively, the report said. The Bremerton-Silverdale, Washington, metropolitan area enjoyed a drop of 20.62 percent, and Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana dipped 20.1 percent.

Equifax data shows that during 2010, the average consumer owed as much as 17 percent of their income to lenders, but that this figure was falling throughout 2011, the report said. In all, consumers still owe nearly $800 billion to those lenders. However, the amount of debt owed for all types of credit - including mortgages, education loans, card balances, car loans and so forth - has fallen nearly 11 percent from the all-time high observed in October 2008, when it sat at $12.4 trillion.

On the other hand, recent months have shown that consumers are once again beginning to borrow on cards, as lenders are now broadening borrowing standards and begin marketing to subprime consumers once again. In addition, some experts have also noted that shifts in borrowing habits due to the holiday shopping season would have likely also had an impact.