Borrowers are paying down their debts across a number of credit categories — with the big exception being student loans, according to new data published by Equifax.
Auto loan delinquency rates for payments at least 60 days overdue fell 35% in July from a year earlier, and bank card delinquencies dropped 21% over the same period, the credit bureau reported on Thursday as part of its monthly National Consumer Credit Trends report.
First mortgage delinquency rates for 30 days or more fell 15%, and home equity revolving 30-day plus delinquencies fell 7%, the company added.
"Consumers continue to improve their credit management, through higher monthly payments on card accounts, refinancing of existing mortgage debt at lower rates, and lower delinquency rates pretty much across the board," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts in a press release.
"Growth in total credit is consistent with the overall improvement in the economy — slow, but steady — with the exception of mortgage debt which is declining overall," she added.
But at the same time, student loan 60-day delinquency rates grew 14% in July from the prior year, and student loan write-offs rose 29% in July from just a month earlier. The total number of student loans rose nearly 24%, to 116 million, in July from a year earlier, according to Equifax.
"Student loans is one area of lending not affected by tighter underwriting standards since the start of the recession," said Crews Cutts. "The investment in higher education pays off over a person's lifetime, while the tuition cost has to be paid up front, leading to big demand for student loans. Unfortunately, the current job market has not been kind to new graduates and their student loans start to come due once they graduate — if they don't have a job by the time the first installment is due, they can find themselves in quite a jam."