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Consumer debt could continue to rise

Feb 03, 2013 Philip Burgess

Americans kept debt collection agencies plenty busy in 2012, and that trend may very well continue in the new year.

A recent survey by Personal Financial Wellness Scale revealed that more than three-quarters of people nationwide are in danger of adding to their debt in the near future, including 32 percent who have substantial risk. Another 44 percent of Americans are "just getting by," according to the study, compared to 28 percent who were listed in that same category in 2004.

A separate report by found that in 2012, U.S. consumers achieved 2.95 percent year-over-year growth in debt, with overall consumer debt now totaling $11.38 trillion. Borrowing for college and for auto purchases accounted for the majority of the debt that Americans added in 2012, according to the report.

In particular, student loans jumped 7.35 percent year-over-year, as the total continues to trend back toward $1 trillion. Credit card debt, which reported marginal growth again in 2012, now totals $852 billion.

The Federal Reserve recently announced that after increasing $16 billion from October to November, consumer borrowing hit a seasonally adjusted record $2.77 trillion.