Press Release

Total Household Debt Increases, Delinquency Rates of Several Debt Types Continue Rising

Transitions to Delinquency Show Persistent Increases for Auto and Credit Card Debt; Auto Loan Delinquency Rates Especially Problematic for Subprime Auto Finance Loans
November 14, 2017

NEW YORK – The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data today issued its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, which reported that total household debt increased by $116 billion (0.9%) to $12.96 trillion in the third quarter of 2017. There were increases in mortgage, student, auto and credit card debt (increasing by 0.6%, 1.0%, 1.9% and 3.1% respectively) and a modest decline in home equity lines of credit (HELOC) balances (decreasing by 0.9%). 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.

Credit card and auto loan flows into delinquency increased. Specifically, credit card flows into delinquency have increased over the past year, while auto loan flows into delinquency have been steadily increasing for several years. Also notable, auto loan originations were at $150.6 billion, up slightly from the previous quarter, marking the second highest level in more than a decade. The New York Fed also issued an accompanying blog post which examines the changes in the auto loan market in terms of originations and performance by lender type.

“Delinquency flows across several debt types climbed this quarter, including for auto loans,” said Wilbert van der Klaauw, senior vice president at the New York Fed. “Examining the auto loan market more closely revealed notable differences between auto finance and auto bank lenders. Delinquency rates among auto finance lenders are considerably higher and rising, especially for subprime borrowers, in part reflecting differences in underwriting standards.”

The Report includes a one-page summary of key takeaways and their supporting data points. Overarching trends from the Report’s summary include:

Housing Debt

  • Mortgage balances and originations increased, and the median credit scores of borrowers for new mortgages increased slightly.
  • The share of mortgage balances that were 90 or more days delinquent continued to improve, printing at 1.4% in the third quarter, down from 1.7% at the beginning of 2017, and substantially improved from the 8.9% high reached in 2010.

Non-Housing Debt

  • Auto loan balances continued their steady rise seen since 2011 and originations increased. Median credit scores of borrowers for the new loans increased slightly.
  • Credit card balances increased and flows into delinquency have increased over the past year.
  • Outstanding student loan balances saw a small increase of $13 billion (increasing by 1.0%), while delinquency flows declined slightly. Student loan delinquency flows remain at a high level.

Bankruptcies & Delinquencies Overall

  • Aggregate delinquency rates ticked up slightly, from 4.8% to 4.9%.
  • Bankruptcy notations decreased.
  • Foreclosures reached a new historical low, as 69,580 individuals had a new foreclosure notation added to their credit reports in the third quarter of 2017.
  • Flows into delinquency deteriorated somewhat—with auto loans and credit card debt seeing persistent increases.

Household Debt and Credit Developments as of Q3 2017

Category Quarterly Change* Annual Change** Total as of Q3 2017
Mortgage Debt (+) $52 billion

(+) $393 billion $8.74 trillion
Home Equity Line of Credit (-) $4 billion (-) $24 billion $448 billion
Student Loan Debt (+) $13 billion (+) $78 billion

$1.36 trillion

Auto Loan Debt (+) $23 billion (+) $78 billion $1.21 trillion
Credit Card Debt (+) $24 billion (+) $61 billion $808 billion
Total Debt (+) $116 billion (+) $605 billion $12.96 trillion

*Change from Q2 2017 to Q3 2017

**Change from Q3 2016 to Q3 2017

Flow into Serious Delinquency (90 days or more delinquent)

Q2 2017 Q3 2017
Mortgage Debt 1.2%

Home Equity Line of Credit 0.9% 0.9%
Student Loan Debt2 9.7% 9.6%
Auto Loan Debt 2.3% 2.4%
Credit Card Debt 4.4% 4.6%
All 2.4% 2.4%

1Chart depicts an annualized share of balances transitioning into delinquency. Flow into serious delinquency is computed as the balances that have newly become at least 90 days late in the reference quarter divided by the balances that were current or less than 90 days past due in the previous quarter.

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.

Betsy Bourassa
(212) 720-6885
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