Outstanding household debt rose by $78 billion in the third quarter compared with the previous three months, to $11.71 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New Yorks quarterly Household Debt and Credit Report.
The figure remains below the $12.68 trillion peak reached in the third quarter of 2008, before borrowing collapsed during the financial crisis.
"Outstanding household debt, led by increases in auto loans, student loans and credit card balances, has steadily trended upward in recent quarters," said Wilbert van der Klaauw, senior vice president and economist at the New York Fed.
The report released Tuesday is based on data from the New York Feds Consumer Credit Panel, a sample taken from Equifax credit data.
All categories of loans increased except for home equity lines of credit, where balances fell by $9 billion, continuing a three-year decline.
Loan originations for new and used cars totaled $105 billion during the third quarter, the highest amount since the third quarter of 2005, according to the Fed's report.
Auto loan balances have now risen for 14 straight quarters. The Fed's report is consistent with industry reports of stronger new light-vehicle sales, boosting the contribution of consumer spending to third-quarter U.S. growth.
Mortgage debt balances rose by $35 billion and non-housing debt was up by $48 billion, led by a $29 billion increase in auto loan balances, an $11 billion increase in credit card debt and an $8 billion rise in student loans.
There also was little change in loan quality, with delinquency rates in the third quarter at 6.3% compared with 6.2% in the second quarter. Approximately $732 billion of debt is delinquent, with $506 billion classed as "seriously delinquent," or 90 days or more overdue.