Smart Borrower Blog

Household Debt Hits Record High of $14 Trillion

Nov 20th, 2019 @ 10:08 PM by Amber Nelson

Total U.S. household debt rose 0.7% in the third quarter to $14 trillion, a new all-time high, according to data from the New York Federal Reserve.
Household debt – including things like mortgages, credit cards, student loan – has now surpassed the previous high from 2008 by $1.3 trillion on an unadjusted basis.

Most of today’s debt is made up of mortgage debt with $9.44 trillion. Total outstanding mortgage loans grew 0.3% or $31 billion since the second quarter. And even as that number continues to climb, delinquencies remain at record lows. “Flows into delinquency among mortgage loans were mostly unchanged from last quarter, as 1.0% of mortgage balances became 90-plus days delinquent in Q3 2019,” the New York Fed press release read. “This is the lowest level observed in the data history.”

Student loans made up the next largest chunk of debt, with $1.50 trillion, a 1.4% increase of $20 billion from the second quarter. Unfortunately, borrowers are not keeping up with their student loans as well as they are with their home loans. Roughly 11% of all student loan debt is past due by 90 days or more, a rate that has almost doubled in the last 15 years.

Car loan debt accounted for $1.32 trillion of consumer debt in the third quarter, up $18 billion from the previous quarter. Lenders did increase their credit standards though, with the median credit score for new auto loans rising to 711, an increase of 8 points.

“New credit extensions were strong in the third quarter of 2019, with auto loan originations reaching near-record highs and mortgage originations increasing significantly year-over-year,” said Donghoon Lee, research officer at the New York Fed. “The data suggest that households are taking advantage of a low-interest rate environment to secure credit.”

Credit card debt grew by $13 billion to a total of $880 billion in the third quarter. Interest rates on credit cards recently topped 17% though, a 25-year high.

About Amber Nelson
Amber Nelson is a seasoned mortgage industry writer and a regular contributor to and

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