Americans added more than $11 billion of consumer debt in May

Mitchell Hartman Jul 9, 2024
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Loan delinquencies 90-days or more past due are now the highest in more than a decade.  anchiy/Getty Images

Americans added more than $11 billion of consumer debt in May

Mitchell Hartman Jul 9, 2024
Heard on:
Loan delinquencies 90-days or more past due are now the highest in more than a decade.  anchiy/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The tally is in for consumer credit; that’s borrowing and paying interest, when we spend money now and pay it back later.

In May, according to the Federal Reserve, American consumers added $11.3 billion to what they owe on credit cards, auto and student loans. The increase in consumer credit was higher than economists expected, and nearly double the $6.5 billion debt added back in April. 

With an economy that’s gradually slowing down in the face of high interest rates, consumers taking on more debt is a bit of a surprise.

“Credit card balances rising again — this is a pretty sharp increase,” said Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate.

“People are definitely spending,” he added. “That’s supporting the economy. But it’s not good to the extent that many of these cardholders are paying an average interest rate of over 20%.”

Loan delinquencies 90-days-or-more past due are now the highest in more than a decade. 

But lenders don’t seem too worried. 

Most consumers can cover their mounting debts, said Mike Schenk at the Credit Union National Association.

“Incomes are rising fairly quickly. But I think from a personal financial wellness perspective, many consumers have experienced a decidedly hard landing, And I think many more will.”

Schenk predicts unemployment will continue to increase this year, making it harder for cash-strapped consumers to keep up.

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