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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Usage Strengthens in February
by Tom Moeller  April 7, 2022

• Revolving credit balances surge.

• Nonrevolving credit usage also strengthens.

Consumer credit outstanding increased by a record $41.8 billion (6.5% y/y) during February after rising $8.9 billion in January, revised from $6.8 billion. A $16.8 billion February rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The ratio of consumer credit outstanding-to-disposable personal income edged higher m/m to 24.4% in February, the highest level since March 2020.

Revolving consumer credit balances rose $18.0 billion (9.7% y/y) in February after growing $3.5 billion in January. Credit provided by depository institutions (90% of the total and mostly credit card debt) rose an increased 11.3% y/y. Credit union borrowing (6% of the total) rose 5.4% y/y. Nonfinancial business loans (2% of the total) held steady y/y. The value of finance company loans (1% of loans) declined 16.7% y/y.

Matching the record set last May, nonrevolving credit usage grew $23.8 billion (5.6% y/y) in February following a $5.4 billion January increase. Federal government borrowing, which issues 42% of nonrevolving credit, grew a lessened 3.3% y/y. Depository institution loans (26% of credit) grew an accelerated 9.5% y/y. Finance company borrowing (17% of loans) grew a fairly steady 5.6% y/y. Credit union loans (14% of the total) rose 6.5% y/y, the quickest since 2019.

During the fourth quarter of 2021, student loan balances rose a lessened 2.6% y/y. Growth in motor vehicle loans rose an accelerated 7.4% y/y, the fastest growth since Q3 2015.

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.

The minutes to the latest FOMC meeting can be found here.

 Consumer Credit Outstanding (M/M Chg, SA) Feb Jan Dec Feb y/y 2021 2020 2019
Total ($ bil) 41.8 8.9 20.7 6.5% 5.9% -0.3% 4.6%
   Revolving 18.0 3.5 3.6 9.7 6.9 -11.1 3.6
   Nonrevolving 23.8 5.4 17.1 5.6 5.6 3.6 5.0
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