Press Release

Total Household Debt Rises for 17th Straight Quarter

New Research Shows Delinquency Rates Higher Among Younger Borrowers
November 16, 2018

NEW YORK—The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data today issued its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, which shows that total household debt increased by $219 billion (1.6%) to $13.51 trillion in the third quarter of 2018. It was the 17th consecutive quarter with an increase and the total is now $837 billion higher than the previous peak of $12.68 trillion in the third quarter of 2008. Furthermore, overall household debt is now 21.2% above the post-financial-crisis trough reached during the second quarter of 2013. The Report is based on data from the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel, a nationally representative sample of individual- and household-level debt and credit records drawn from anonymized Equifax credit data.

The New York Fed also issued a new set of charts and data disaggregating debt and repayment outcomes by borrower age, also described in an accompanying blog post, to be included in the report going forward.

“The new charts in our report help to better understand how the debt and repayment landscape have shifted in the years following the Great Recession,” said Donghoon Lee, research officer at the New York Fed. “Older borrowers now hold a larger share of total outstanding debt balances, while the shares held by younger borrowers have contracted and shifted toward auto loans and student loans.”

The report includes a one-page summary of key takeaways and their supporting data points. Overarching trends from the Report’s summary include:

Housing Debt

  • Mortgage originations increased to $445 billion from $437 billion in the second quarter.
  • Mortgage delinquencies were roughly flat, with 1.1% of mortgage balances 90 or more days delinquent in the third quarter.

Non-Housing Debt

  • Outstanding student loan debt increased by $37 billion and stood at $1.44 trillion as of September 30.
  • Auto loan balances increased by $27 billion to $1.27 trillion in 2018Q3.
  • Credit card balances rose by $15 billion to $844 billion.

Delinquencies, Collection Accounts, and Credit Inquiries

  • Mortgage delinquency transition rates increased slightly with about 1.2% of current balances transitioning into delinquency.
  • The number of credit inquiries within the past six months—an indicator of consumer credit demand—increased slightly, but remains among the lowest seen in the history of the data.

Household Debt and Credit Developments as of Q3 2018

Quarterly Change* Annual Change**
(billions $)
Total as of Q3 2018
(trillions $)
Mortgage (+)$141 billion (+) $397 $9.140
Home Equity Line of Credit

(-) $10 billion (-) $26 $0.422
Student Loan (+) $37 billion (+) $85 $1.442
Auto Loan (+) $27 billion (+) $52 $1.265
Credit Card (+) $15 billion (+) $36 $0.844
Total Debt (+) $219 billion (+) $557 $13.512

*Change from Q2 2018 to Q2 2018
**Change from Q3 2017 to Q3 2018

Flow into Serious Delinquency (90 days or more delinquent) 1

Category 2
Q2 2018 Q3 2018
Mortgage 1.2% 1.2%
Home Equity Line of Credit 1.1% 1.0%
Student Loan 3 8.6% 9.1%
Auto Loan 2.3% 2.3%
Credit Card 4.8% 4.9%

1 Annualized as a four-quarter moving sum.

2 Rates represent annualized shares of balances transitioning into delinquency. Flow into serious delinquency is computed as the balances that have newly become at least 90 days late in the reference quarter divided by the balances that were current of less than 90 days past due in the previous quarter.

3 As explained in a previous report, delinquency rates for student loans are likely to understate effective delinquency rates because about half of these loans are currently in deferment, in grace periods or in forbearance and therefore temporarily not in the repayment cycle. This implies that among loans in the repayment cycle delinquency rates are roughly twice as high.

About the Report

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Household Debt and Credit Report provides unique data and insight into the credit conditions and activity of U.S. consumers. Based on data from the New York Fed's Consumer Credit Panel, a nationally representative sample drawn from anonymized Equifax credit data, the report provides a quarterly snapshot of household trends in borrowing and indebtedness, including data about mortgages, student loans, credit cards, auto loans and delinquencies. The report aims to help community groups, small businesses, state and local governments and the public to better understand, monitor and respond to trends in borrowing and indebtedness at the household level. Sections of the report are presented as interactive graphs on the New York Fed's Household Credit web page and the full report is available for download.

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