Household Debt Rises by $85 Billion in First Quarter

Outstanding household debt increased 0.6% in the first quarter of 2021, rising by $85 billion to land at $14.64 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 $117 billion in the first quarter, landing at $10.16 trillion. Among non-mortgage debt categories, credit card balances declined by $49 billion in the first quarter, the second largest quarterly decline in card balances since records began in 1999. Auto loans rose by $8 billion and student loans rose by $29 billion.

Overall delinquency rates declined 0.1 percentage point during the first quarter, with 3.1% of outstanding debt in some stage of delinquency. The share of mortgage balances 90 days or more delinquent was 0.59%, a record low as forbearance remains an option and foreclosures are mostly on hold. For auto loans and credit card debt, the share flowing into 90-day delinquency declined, landing at 1.72% for auto loans and 3.78% for credit card debt. The rate of serious student loan delinquency declined to 1.02% from 8.87% the prior year, as the majority of outstanding federal student loans remain covered by CARES Act forbearances.