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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Usage Continues Strong in December
by Tom Moeller  February 7, 2022

• Nonrevolving credit remains robust.

• Revolving credit growth slows.

Consumer credit outstanding increased $18.9 billion during December following a record $38.8 billion November surge, revised from $40.0 billion. Last year's 5.9% gain was the strongest since 2016. A $21.4 billion December rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The ratio of consumer credit outstanding-to-disposable personal income rose to 24.3% in December, the highest level since March 2020.

Nonrevolving credit usage grew $16.8 billion (5.7% y/y) in December following a $19.5 billion November increase. During all of last year nonrevolving credit balances rose 5.7%, the quickest increase since 2016. Federal government borrowing, which issues over 40% of nonrevolving credit, grew a steady 4.1% y/y. Depository institution loans (26% of credit) grew an accelerated 8.8% y/y, up from 2.7% in 2020. Finance company borrowing (17% of loans) rose 5.8% y/y, quicker than the 3.6% growth in 2020. Credit union loans (14% of the total) increased 5.7% y/y, the quickest since 2018.

Revolving consumer credit balances increased $2.1 billion in December after surging $19.3 billion in November. During all of last year, revolving credit rose 6.6% after falling 11.1% in 2020. Credit provided by depository institutions (90% of the total and mostly credit card debt) rose 7.3% y/y after an 11.0% decline in 2020. Credit union borrowing (6% of the total) rose 5.5% y/y after falling 6.4% in 2020. Nonfinancial business loans (2% of the total) held steady y/y. The value of finance company loans (2% of loans) declined 21.4% y/y following a 21.9% shortfall in 2020.

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) Dec Nov Oct Dec y/y 2021 2020 2019
Total ($ bil) 18.9 38.8 14.7 5.9% 5.9% -0.3% 4.6%
   Revolving 2.1 19.3 6.1 6.6 6.6 -11.1 3.6
   Nonrevolving 16.8 19.5 8.6 5.7 5.7 3.6 5.0
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