PRESS RELEASE
Household Debt Grows Modestly
February 12, 2016

Household debt increased moderately and repayment rates improved during the last three months of 2015, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit. The $51 billion increase put total household indebtedness at $12.12 trillion as of the end of last year.  Additionally, only 5.4 percent of outstanding debt was in some stage of delinquency, the lowest rate since the second quarter of 2007. The report is based on data from the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel, a nationally representative sample of individual- and household-level debt and credit records drawn from anonymized Equifax credit data.

Modest aggregate debt growth was partially attributable to flat mortgage balances. Balances on home equity lines of credit continued a decline that began more than four years ago, falling last quarter by $5 billion. In contrast, auto debt, which has steadily advanced every quarter since mid-2011, increased again by $19 billion.

New originations continued at a tempered pace. While mortgage originations decreased slightly from the third quarter, to $437 billion, there were $132 billion of auto loan originations, a slight decline from the 3rd quarter’s 10-year high. The distribution of borrowers in these two categories varied.  More than half (56 percent) of all new mortgage balances went to borrowers with credit scores above 760. Conversely, there were high levels of originations across all types of auto borrowers. 

Overall delinquency rates improved last quarter, a development driven largely by mortgages.  Just 2.2 percent of mortgage balances were 90+ days delinquent, a slight improvement from the third quarter’s 2.3 percent. Overall 90+ day delinquencies dropped to their lowest level since the beginning of 2008.

“Non-housing debt balances have been rising, but the same cannot be said for mortgages,” said Andrew Haughwout, senior vice president at the New York Fed.   “Mortgages are being paid down faster, helping to offset the generally rising volume of originations.”

Household Debt and Credit Developments as of Q4 2015:

Category Quarterly Change* Annual Change** Total as of Q4 2015
Mortgage Debt (-) $11 billion (+) $79 billion $8.25 trillion
HELOC (-) $5 billion (-) $23 billion $487 billion
Student Loan Debt (+) $29 billion (+) $75 billion $1.23 trillion
Auto Loan Debt (+) $19 billion (+) $109 billion $1.06 trillion
Credit Card Debt (+) $19 billion (+) $33 billion $733 billion
Total Debt (+) $ 51 billion (+) $288 billion $12.12 trillion


*Change from Q3 2015 to Q4 2015
**Change from Q4 2014 to Q4 2015

90+ day delinquency rates:

Category 1 Q4 2015 Q3 2015
Mortgages

2.2%

2.3%

HELOC

2.2%

2.4%

Student Loans 2

11.5%

11.6%

Auto Loans

3.4%

3.4%

Credit Cards

7.7%

8.2%

All 3.7% 3.8%

1Delinquency rates are computed as the proportion of the total outstanding debt balance that is at least 90 days past due.

2As explained in a previous report, delinquency rates for student loans are likely to understate effective delinquency rates because about half of these loans are currently in deferment, in grace periods or in forbearance and therefore temporarily not in the repayment cycle. This implies that among loans in the repayment cycle delinquency rates are roughly twice as high.

Household Debt and Credit Report »

About the report
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Household Debt and Credit Report provides unique data and insight into the credit conditions and activity of U.S. consumers. Based on data from the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel, a nationally representative sample drawn from anonymized Equifax credit data, the report provides a quarterly snapshot of household trends in borrowing and indebtedness, including data about mortgages, student loans, credit cards, auto loans and delinquencies.  The report aims to help community groups, small businesses, state and local governments and the public to better understand, monitor and respond to trends in borrowing and indebtedness at the household level.  Sections of the report are presented as interactive graphs on the New York Fed’s Household Credit web page and the full report is available for download.

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