Amid declining household debt, rising student loans remain a drag on the economy

by Grace

Total household debt continues to decline, but rise in student debt hampers economic recovery.

The total amount of debt held by Americans fell again in the first three months of the year and stood at the lowest level since the middle of 2006, the New York Federal Reserve said Tuesday….

The level of household debt in the first quarter fell by $110 billion, or 1%, to $11.23 trillion, mainly because consumers reduced mortgage balances and used their credit cards less.

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Auto and student loans rise.

The increase in the value of auto loans was the smallest in four quarters, suggesting that car companies might have cut prices to attract buyers as demand for new vehicles slackened. Still, auto loans rose $11 billion to $794 billion to mark the ninth straight quarterly gain.

Student loans have ‘surged 46% since the end of the recession’.

Student loans, which climbed $20 billion in the first quarter, have surged 46% since the end of the recession to an all-time high of $986 billion. More students are going to college or remaining in school longer to obtain graduate degrees to improve their chances of finding a job amid a slow economic recovery.

Yet the escalation in student loans is also leaving many young people saddled with large debts. Although the delinquency rate on student loans fell slightly in the first quarter to 11.19%, that’s still the second highest rate ever. Before the recession, delinquencies averaged around 7%.

The decline in household debt is good for a recovering economy, but economists believe growing student loans are ‘acting as a drag on growth’.

The anemic economy has left millions of younger working Americans struggling to get ahead. The added millstone of student loan debt, which recently exceeded $1 trillion in total, is making it even harder for many of them, delaying purchases of things like homes, cars and other big-ticket items and acting as a drag on growth, economists said.

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