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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Usage Remains Strong
by Tom Moeller  January 8, 2019

Consumers continue to expand their credit balances as employment increases. Consumer credit outstanding rose $22.16 billion during November following a $24.97 billion October gain, revised from $25.38 billion. Together, these two increases were the largest of the economic expansion. A $15.8 billion gain had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. During the past ten years, there has been a 51% correlation between the y/y gain in consumer credit and y/y growth in personal consumption expenditures.

Nonrevolving credit usage increased $17.37 billion (5.1% y/y) during November. Gains here have been strengthening this year. Federal government borrowing (42% of the total) rose 8.3% y/y. Borrowing from depository institutions (25% of the total) rose a slightly improved 3.8% y/y but finance company balances (18% of the total) eased 0.8% y/y. Credit union loans (13% of the total) rose a strengthened 9.8% y/y.

Revolving consumer credit balances increased $4.76 billion in November (3.0% y/y). Balances at depository institutions (88% of the total) rose a greatly lessened 4.1% y/y. Borrowing from credit unions (6% of the total) rose 8.2% y/y. Finance company balances (2% of the total) fell 11.9% y/y, while nonfinancial business borrowing (2% of the total) held steady y/y.

These Federal Reserve Board figures are break-adjusted and calculated by Haver Analytics. There is a break in the credit outstanding data from November 2010 to December 2010 due to the Fed's benchmarking process. Benchmark estimates are based on the Census of Finance Companies (CFC) and the Survey of Finance Companies (SFC) conducted in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

The consumer credit data are available in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics figures are contained in the AS1REPNA database.

Consumer Credit Outstanding (M/M Chg, SA) Nov Oct Sep Nov y/y 2017 2016 2015
Total $22.16 bil. $24.97 bil. $9.64 bil. 4.5% 5.0% 6.7% 3.0%
   Nonrevolving 17.37 15.63 9.67 5.1 4.8 6.7 3.3
   Revolving 4.76 9.34 -0.03 3.0 5.6 6.8 2.1
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