Household Debt Ticks Up

Outstanding household debt increased by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, rising by $32 billion to land at $13.54 trillion, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported today. The increase marks the 18th consecutive quarter of debt growth.

Mortgage balances, the largest component of household debt, were essentially unchanged from the third quarter, holding steady at $9.1 trillion — and remaining below the 2008 peak of almost $10 trillion. The median credit score for new borrowers was mostly unchanged. Home equity lines of credit continued to decline, falling by $10 billion during the quarter. Among non-mortgage debt categories, credit card balances saw the biggest quarterly increase at $26 billion; student loan balances rose by $15 billion and auto loan balances rose by $9 billion.

Overall delinquency rates remained steady during the fourth quarter, with 4.7 percent of outstanding debt in delinquency, unchanged from the third quarter. Mortgage delinquencies were also flat, with 1.1 percent of mortgage balances 90 or more days delinquent. The amount of debt in serious delinquency increased in the fourth quarter for credit cards and auto loans and declined for HELOCs.