Household Debt Steps Up, Delinquencies Drop

May 24, 2016

Household indebtedness continued to advance during the first three months of 2016 according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, which was released today. Repayment trends also generally improved across the board, driven primarily by continuing improvements in mortgage delinquency rates.  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.

The bulk of the $136 billion (1.1 percent) aggregate debt increase came from mortgages, which increased $120 billion from the fourth quarter of 2015 to a four and a half year high. The median credit score for newly originating mortgages increased slightly, and 58 percent of all new mortgage dollars went to borrowers with credit scores over 760. 

Non-housing debt balances increased modestly in the first quarter, thanks to a $7 billion increase in auto loans and $29 billion increase in student loans offset by a $21 billion decline in credit card debt.

Overall repayment rates generally improved in the first quarter of this year. Five percent of outstanding debt was in some stage of delinquency, the lowest amount since the second quarter of 2007. 2.1 percent of mortgage balances were 90 days delinquent during 2016Q1 compared to 2.2 percent in the previous quarter. About 207,000 consumers had a bankruptcy notation added to their credit report, a 19 percent decline from the same quarter last year. As explained in an accompanying blog post, there are regional variations in these trends, particularly in oil producing counties. 

"Delinquency rates and the overall quality of outstanding debt continue to improve," said Wilbert van der Klaauw, senior vice president at the New York Fed. "The proportion of overall debt that becomes newly delinquent has been on a steady downward trend and is at its lowest level since our series began in 1999. This improvement is in large part driven by mortgages."

Household Debt and Credit Developments as of Q1 2016:

Category Quarterly Change* Annual Change** Total as of Q1 2016
Mortgage Debt (+) $120 billion (+) $198 billion $8.37 trillion
HELOC (-)$-2 billion (-) $26 billion $485 billion
Student Loan Debt (+) $29 billion (+) $72 billion $1.26 trillion
Auto Loan Debt (+) $7 billion (+) $103 billion $1.07 trillion
Credit Card Debt (-)$-21 billion (+) $28 billion $712 billion
Total Debt (+) $136 billion (+) $401 billion $12.25 trillion

*Change from Q4 2015 to Q1 2016
**Change from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016

90+ day delinquency rates:

Category 1 Q1 2016 Q4 2015






Student Loans 2



Auto Loans



Credit Cards



All 3.6% 3.7%

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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