Americans’ household debt surpasses $16T for first time

Associated Press/Mark Lennihan

Total household debt for Americans has risen to a record $16 trillion, according to a report from The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as Americans grapple with inflation and rising costs.

“Americans are borrowing more, but a big part of the increased borrowing is attributable to higher prices,” NY Fed researchers wrote in a blog post accompanying the report, released Tuesday.

The total rose 2 percent between the first and second quarters of 2022, or about $312 billion. This year’s $16.15 trillion household debt dollar amount is $2 trillion higher than what was recorded in pre-pandemic 2019. 

Increases in mortgage and auto loan debt are reactive to rising home and auto costs, the researchers wrote, and the uptick in credit card debt shows the effect of inflation.

Mortgage balances were the biggest contributor to the $2 trillion increase, rising by $207 billion to $11.39 trillion total. Auto loans rose by $33 billion. 

Credit card balances went up by $46 billion, one of the largest recorded by the NY Fed since 1999, “at least partly reflecting inflation on consumer goods and services purchased using credit cards,” the researchers wrote.  

Non-housing balances — including credit card, auto and student loan debts — saw the largest increase since 2016, up by $103 billion.

The NY Fed reported student loan balances, at around $1.59 trillion, didn’t much fluctuate from the first quarter.

The report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York drew from the New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel, a nationally representative sample of Equifax credit report data.

Tags auto loans debt federal reserve bank household debt household debt inflation loans mortage ny fed rising costs student loans

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