U.S. household borrowing climbed in February compared with January, supported by financing for automobiles and college education.

The $17.2 billion jump in February followed a $14.9 billion gain a month earlier that was larger than estimated, Federal Reserve figures showed Tuesday. 

Consumers, emboldened by a jump in hiring and inexpensive financing rates, appear to be more willing to borrow for big-ticket items such as cars. Households at the same time largely have been wary of carrying large and unmanageable credit card balances.

Non-revolving debt, such as that for college tuition and the purchase of vehicles and mobile homes, increased $14.3 billion, the smallest gain in three months. Lending by the federal government, which is mainly for student loans, rose by $6.2 billion before adjusting for seasonal variations.

Revolving debt, which includes credit cards, rose by $2.9 billion in February following a $243.7 million decrease in January, the Fed's report showed.

The Fed’s consumer credit report doesn’t track debt secured by real estate, such as home equity lines of credit and home mortgages.

Total consumer debt rose to $3.57 trillion in February of which $940.6 billion is revolving debt and $2.63 trillion is non-revolving debt. 

The largest holder of consumer debt is the federal government which holds about $984.2 billion in debt, including certain types of student loans. Banks hold approximately $754.4 billion in revolving debt and approximately $646.8 billion in non-revolving debt. Finance companies and credit unions are also large holders of non-revolving debt, with February totals of about $618.6 billion and $299.2 billion, respectively.

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