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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Surges in September
by Tom Moeller  November 5, 2021

• Nonrevolving credit usage nearly doubles.

• Revolving credit growth triples.

Consumer credit outstanding strengthened $29.9 billion (4.9% y/y) during September following a $13.8 billion August gain, revised from $14.4 billion. A $15.6 billion September rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The ratio of consumer credit outstanding-to-disposable personal income rose to 24.4% in September, the highest level since March of last year.

Nonrevolving credit usage grew $20.1 billion (5.6% y/y) in September, the quickest rise since May. Federal government borrowing, which issues over 40% of nonrevolving credit, grew a steady 4.3% y/y. Depository institution loans (25% of credit) grew an accelerated 8.2% y/y, up from 2.7% last year. Finance company borrowing (17.0% of loans) rose 6.0% y/y, quicker than the 3.6% growth in 2020. Credit union loans (15.0% of the total) increased 4.8% y/y, faster than 2.6% last year.

Revolving consumer credit balances increased $9.8 billion (2.7% y/y) in September, the strongest gain in three months. Credit provided by depository institutions (90% of the total and mostly credit card debt) rose 3.4% y/y versus an 11.0% y/y decline last year. Credit union borrowing rose 0.7% y/y after falling 6.4% last year. The value of finance company loans declined 12.1% y/y following last year's 21.9% shortfall.

The value of student loans outstanding rose 2.8% y/y during the third quarter while the value of motor vehicle loans surged 6.9% y/y.

These Federal Reserve Board figures are break-adjusted and calculated by Haver Analytics. The breaks in the series in 2005, 2010 and 2015 are the result of the incorporation of the Census and Survey of Finance Companies, as well as changes in the seasonal adjustment methodology. 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) Sep Aug Jul Sep y/y 2020 2019 2018
Total ($ bil) 29.9 13.8 16.6 4.9% -0.3% 4.6% 4.5%
   Nonrevolving 20.1 11.0 10.9 5.6 3.6 5.0 4.8
   Revolving 9.8 2.8 5.6 2.7 -11.1 3.6 3.7
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