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U.S. household debt falls by 0.6 percent in third quarter

Dec 03, 2011 Philip Burgess

Shrinking mortgage balances caused U.S. household debt to shrink by 0.6 percent during the third quarter, according to a report released Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Consumer debt reached $11.66 trillion by the end of the September, marking $60 billion reduction. Mortgage balances declined by roughly $114 billion, or 1.3 percent, Bloomberg reports. About 10 percent of consumer debt is in some stage of delinquency, up slightly from 9.8 percent during the second quarter. Nonetheless, some organizations may leverage resident screening services to better inform their credit decisions. "Households continue to try and deleverage in the wake of a challenging economic environment and large declines in home values," said Andrew Haughwout, vice president in the research and statistics group at the New York Fed. "However, our findings also provide evidence that consumer credit demand continues to increase, a positive sign for consumer sentiment." Rising balances on student, auto and home equity loans drove up non-real estate indebtedness by 1.3 percent to $2.62 trillion, while the number of credit card accounts fell to a level nearly 23 percent below its high-point in the second quarter of 2008.