Staggering Consumer Debt Nearing Recession Levels

Even with debt higher than it has ever been, the monthly cost of servicing that debt is near the lowest level in 35 years, meaning consumers can do it easily, according to Moody’s Analytics.

According to the most recent National Credit Trends Report from Equifax, consumer debt now stands at $11.2 trillion, slightly more than the $11.1 trillion recorded before the recession in 2006. The figure is substantially lower than the peak of $12.4 trillion noted in October of 2008.

It is truly staggering to see how much debt has been accumulated in the decade following the Great Recession. Debts in the categories of auto loans, credit cards, and student loans have topped a confounding $1 trillion, the highest levels on record without adjusting for inflation.

The reason for this is the concern that, like in the United States before the last recession, excessive household debt levels pose a greater risk to the economy than do higher interest rates. Canadian’s are knee deep in debt , with Statistics Canada reporting that the most recent household debt-to-income ratio reached 163.4% in the second.

Here’s the real reason why Americans owe more money now than at the start of the great recession: student loan debt has increased by a staggering 144% over the past decade thanks to soaring college tuition rates. In fact, excluding student loan debt, Americans’ overall indebtedness would have actually dropped by about $300 billion since then.

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For a typical borrower, an increased debt load results in dramatically higher amounts coming out of monthly paychecks. For example, according to one recent study, the average student loan payment for a 20-to-30 year old borrower in 2015 was $351, a payment amount more than 50 percent higher than it was a decade ago.

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