US Household Debt Nears $12 Trillion

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In its fourth quarter 2014 report on household debt and credit, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said that debt rose by $117 billion in the quarter, and total indebtedness at the end of December totaled $11.83 trillion. That is a year-over-year increase of $306 billion.

Mortgage debt rose by $39 billion in the fourth quarter and student loan debt rose by $31 billion. U.S. households also added $21 billion to auto loan debt and $20 billion to credit card debt.

For the full year, mortgage debt rose $121 billion to a total of $8.17 trillion of the grand total household debt. Student loan debt rose by $77 billion in 2014 and now stands at a total of $1.16 trillion. U.S. consumers added $92 billion in auto loan debt last year for a total outstanding of $955 billion.

Credit card debt rose by $17 billion for the year and now stands at $700 billion. All of the rise in credit card debt came in the fourth quarter. Home equity lines of credit dropped by $2 billion in the quarter and by $19 billion for the year to a total of $510 billion.

Student loan delinquencies (90 days or more late) rose from 11.1% at the end of the third quarter of 2014 to 11.3% at the end of the fourth quarter. Auto loan delinquencies also rose, from 3.1% in third quarter to 3.5% in the fourth.

Overall, however, delinquency rates improved in 2014. As of the end of December 2013, some 6.3% of all outstanding debt was in some stage of delinquency. That number dropped to 6.0% at the end of last year. A total of about $710 billion was delinquent, with more than $500 billion seriously delinquent (90 days or more late).

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