Household Debt Nears $16 trillion Despite Rising Rates & Inflation

Submitted by Stafford Patterson on Tue, 05/10/2022 - 9:07pm

Household Debt Nears $16 trillion Despite Rising Rates & Inflation

Consumer debt and credit rose 1.7% in the first quarter to $15.84 trillion. The rise in total household credit was propelled largely by a $250 billion increase in mortgage debt, which now stands at $11.18 trillion, an increase of 10% from the first quarter in 2021.

Credit card balances actually fell during the three-month period by $15 billion but still remained $71 billion, or about 9% higher than they were for the same period a year ago. Auto loan originations declined in the first quarter after what the New York Fed described as “a historically brisk 2021,” in which used vehicle prices soared by nearly 27%.

Student loan debt climbed by $14 billion in the first quarter, bringing the annual increase to 6.5%.

The acceleration in debt overall comes with consumer price inflation up 8.5% over the past year through March and with interest rates surging to multiyear highs. Thirty-year mortgage rates are now running around 5% after being closer to 3% just a year ago, according to Freddie Mac.

Mortgages make up 71% of all household debt, a number that has consistently climbed.

Households have originated $8.4 trillion in new mortgage debt since the Covid pandemic began, the result of a relocation trend out of cities and into the suburbs, a move that has coincided with a massive rise in prices, the New York Fed reported. The median home price has soared 30% over the past two years to $428,700, according to census data.

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