Household Debt Rises by $206 Billion in Fourth Quarter

Outstanding household debt rose by 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, rising by $206 billion to land at $14.56 trillion, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported today. That increase was driven in large part by a rise on mortgage originations.

Mortgage balances, the largest component of household debt, rose by $182 billion in the fourth quarter, landing at $10.04 trillion. Among non-mortgage debt categories, credit card balances increased by $12 billion in the fourth quarter, though they remained $108 billion lower than they were at the end of 2019. Auto loans rose by $14 billion and student loans rose by $9 billion.

Overall delinquency rates declined 1.6 percentage points during the fourth quarter, with 1.25% of outstanding debt in some stage of delinquency. The share of mortgage balances 90 days or more delinquent was 0.65%. For auto loans and credit card debt, the share flowing into 90-day delinquency declined, landing at 1.84% for auto loans and 4.12% for credit card debt. The rate of serious student loan delinquency declined to 2.76% from 9.21% the prior year, as they were covered by CARES Act forbearances.