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Household Debt Outstanding Inches Upward While Delinquency Rates Are Improving

mixed-numbersTotal household debt outstanding increased by about $24 billion up t0 $11.85 trillion (an increase of about 0.2 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's quarterly Household Debt and Credit Report.

Mortgage balances, which are the largest component of household debt, as well as balances on home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) both remained largely unchanged from quarter to quarter, according to the New York Fed. Consumer credit reports showed mortgage balances to be about $8.17 trillion and HELOC balances at about $510 billion for the first quarter. Increases in non-housing debt, such as $32 billion in student loan debt and $13 billion for auto loan debt (partially offset by a decline of $16 billion in credit card balances) accounted for the slight uptick in household debt quarter-over-quarter.

Delinquency rates improved overall in the first quarter of 2015, according to the New York Fed. At the end of Q1, about $679 billion of household debt was in some stage of delinquency (representing about 5.7 percent of outstanding debt), a decline from 6.0 percent reported at the end of the previous quarter. About $501 billion of that delinquent debt is more than 90 days late, defined as seriously delinquent.

The number of consumers who added a bankruptcy notation to their credit reports also declined in Q1 down to about 255,000 (a decrease of about 4.1 percent from the same quarter a year earlier). It was the lowest total for any quarter since early 2006. The share of seriously delinquent mortgage balances decreased slightly from 3.1 percent in Q4 2014 down to 3.0 percent for Q1 2015.

Meanwhile, about 112,000 consumers added a foreclosure notation to their credit reports during Q1, which was the lowest total reported for any quarter in the 16-year history of the data, according to the New York Fed.

Mortgage originations, which include refinances, remain near historical lows but still increase slightly in Q1 up to about $369 billion.

Overall, household debt in Q1 was still 6.5 percent lower than its peak achieved in Q3 of 2008, which was $12.68 trillion. Click here to see the New York Fed's complete report.

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.

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