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Total Household Debt Continues to Increase, As Do Student Loan Delinquency Rates

The amount of total household debt in the United States hit another new record during the third quarter, which also marked the 17th straight quarterly increase in the figure, as individuals continued to take on more debt, especially student loans.

There was $13.51 trillion of outstanding debt in the U.S. at the end of the third quarter, $219 billion more than at the end of the second quarter, according to data released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The 1.6% increase in total household debt from the second quarter to the third quarter is nearly three times the size of the increase from the first quarter to the second quarter. The total amount of household debt is now $837 billion higher than the previous record — which was set during the third quarter of 2008, just before the start of the Great Recession. The amount of household debt declined for five straight years before starting to climb again in 2013 and the $13.51 trillion of debt currently is 212% higher than what Americans were carrying at that point.

The largest increase in any particular type of debt was in student loans, which increased by $37 billion from the second quarter to the third, compared with an increase of $15 billion in credit card balances and $27 billion in new auto loan debt.

Except for a slight increase in the amount of credit card debt that became seriously delinquent during the third quarter, compared with the second quarter — 4.9% to 4.8% — the only credit category to see an increase the amount of individuals who are now seriously delinquent on their loan payments (no payments for at least 90 days) were student loan borrowers. At the end of the third quarter, 9.1% of all student loan debt was seriously delinquent, up from 8.6% at the end of the second quarter.

While delinquency rates on mortgages and home equity lines of credit are declining, delinquency rates on student loans, credit cards, and auto loans are trending the other way. While the number of individuals with a debt that had been placed with a third-party collection agency continued to decline, the average collection amount per person with a debt in collection continued to increase.

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