The growth of per capita consumer debt appears to have stalled in the United States. After an extended period of growth, real per capita consumer debt slipped 0.1 percent in the third quarter, according to the latest issue of The Quarterly Debt Monitor.
Don Schlagenhauf, chief economist for the St. Louis Fed’s Center for Household Financial Stability, and Lowell Ricketts, the Center’s senior analyst, analyzed consumer credit data and found that a decline in housing-related debt offset growth in other types of consumer debt during the third quarter.
“The latest data suggest that overall growth may have stalled, despite robust student and auto loan borrowing,” Schlagenhauf and Ricketts wrote.
Per capita mortgage debt fell 1.7 percent in the third quarter, while home equity lines of credit dropped 2.9 percent. Other types of consumer debt continued to expand in the third quarter, but only student debt saw a stronger pace of growth compared to the second quarter of 2016:
Schlagenhauf and Ricketts also looked at how consumer debt levels changed in the four largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the Eighth Federal Reserve District.1 The Louisville, Ky., and St. Louis MSAs nearly matched the national figure during the third quarter: Overall per capita debt was unchanged in Louisville and edged up 0.1 percent in St. Louis.
However, per capita debt grew 1.4 percent in the Little Rock, Ark., MSA as the decline in mortgage debt was more than offset by strong growth in all other types of consumer debt, including home equity lines of credit. Per capita debt rose 0.4 percent in the Memphis, Tenn., MSA.
1 The Eighth District is headquartered in St. Louis and includes all of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.