U.S. consumers borrowed more in the first quarter to pay for education and automobiles but their overall debt burden remained mostly flat, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The percentage of consumer debt at least 90 days late was unchanged in Q1 at 4.3%, according to the Fed report released Tuesday. The 90-day delinquency rates for mortgages, student loans and auto loans all fell, while the comparable rate for credit cards rose to 8.4% from 7.3% a year ago.
Credit card debt outstanding fell by $16 billion in Q1 to $684 billion, despite the fact that the aggregate credit card limit rose 0.9% from the previous quarter, according to the report.
The Fed report is based on a sample of data from Equifax. It also found that 255,000 consumers had a bankruptcy notation added to their credit reports during the quarter, the lowest quarterly total in about nine years.Student loan balances rose by $32 billion, to $1.19 trillion in Q1, when compared with the last three months of 2014. Auto loan debt rose by $13 billion, to $968 billion, the New York Fed found.
The expansions in the two sectors were muted by a lack of growth in the $8.17 trillion market for housing debt. Mortgage balances increased by just $1 billion in the quarter, while balances on home equity lines of credit were unchanged.
New York Fed economist Andrew Haughwout attributed the slow growth in housing debt to tight standards on mortgage lending.
The New York Fed found, in a separate survey released Monday, that 23% of U.S. consumers expect that credit will be easier to obtain in April 2016, while 30% of consumers expect it to be harder to obtain.