News & Resources

Consumer borrowing is on the rise

May 17, 2011 Todd Milner

The Federal Reserve recently announced that total consumer borrowing increased by more than $6 billion in March - the sixth consecutive monthly gain - and borrowing related to car loan financing rose for the eighth month in a row. The 3 percent overall increase pushed consumer borrowing to a seasonally adjusted annual level of $2.43 trillion - an improvement, but still only 1.3 percent higher than the low of $2.39 trillion that was hit in September of 2010. According to the latest government report, Americans spent more on furniture and electronic products in March, but also had to pay higher prices for gas, which may account for part of the rise in credit card borrowing. As a result of the recession, which began in December 2007, consumers began making credit decisions that reflected their desire to save more and borrow less - a trend that may be starting to reverse as a result of hiring and a cut in Social Security payroll taxes. Revolving credit rose by 2.9 percent in March - only the second gain since August of 2008.