Household Debt Rises by $286 Billion in Third Quarter

Total household debt increased 1.9% in the third quarter of 2021, rising by $286 billion to land at $15.24 trillion, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported today. Mortgage balances, the largest component of household debt, rose by $230 billion in the third quarter to reach $10.67 trillion. Among nonmortgage debt categories, credit card balances increased by $17 billion in the third quarter, the same increase as in the second quarter but $123 billion lower than at the end of 2019. Student loans increased by $14 billion from the second quarter.

As of late September, 2.7% of outstanding debt was in some stage of delinquency, a two percentage point decline from the fourth quarter of 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. The share of mortgage balances delinquent 90 days or more remained at 0.5%, as available relief at the federal and local levels are expected to forestall many foreclosure starts until 2022.

For auto loans and credit card debt, the share flowing into 90-day delinquency declined, 1.6% for auto loans and 3.2% for credit card debt. The rate of serious student loan delinquency declined to 1.1% from 4.4% the prior year, the lower level reflecting a Department of Education decision to report current status on loans eligible for CARES Act forbearances.