The new numbers come after two years of declining consumer credit. With the recession under way, consumers began to clamp their wallets shut — in 2009, consumer credit fell 4.4 percent, and was down another 1.7 percent in 2010.
The January growth represents a $5 billion increase in consumer credit, as the total number climbed to $2.412 trillion.
However, January's growth in credit was not driven by increases in credit card debt — revolving credit shrank by $4.2 billion in January, after a $2 billion uptick in December. Credit card debt has fallen nearly every month since the financial crisis began in 2008, and now amounts to $162 billion less than what it was that year.
Rather, January's boost was created by an increase in non-revolving credit, such as auto and student loans. That sector was up $9.2 billion in January.