Consumer borrowing to a record high in February, fueled by a large jump in auto and student loans. The value of non-revolving debt climbed by the most since July 2011.
The $15.5 billion advance in household credit followed a $10.8 billion gain in January, according to Federal Reserve figures. A surge in non-revolving loans such as those for automobile purchases and education more than offset the biggest drop in revolving credit since November 2010. The February increase pushed borrowing to a fresh record of $3.34 trillion.
Revolving debt, which includes credit card spending, decreased by $3.7 billion in February after a $1 billion decline the month before, the figures showed.
Non-revolving credit, such as that for college tuition and the purchase of vehicles and mobile homes, increased by $19.2 billion after Januarys $11.8 billion gain.
Lending to consumers by the federal government, mainly for student loans, rose by $6.4 billion before adjusting for seasonal variations after surging $27.9 billion in January.
Consumers hurt by rising debts during the recession likely will need to see economic improvement in the way of wage gains and job growth to feel more comfortable boosting their borrowing. While households have been willing to take out loans for education and vehicles, theyve been hesitant to use credit cards for other spending.
Economists are hopeful that with healthy job growth and unemployment down to 5.5%, households will feel more confident about using their credit cards.