Debt in U.S. has seen 11 percent increase in last decade

By Kelly Leighton | Jan. 10, 2017 | 2 min. read

Debt in the United States has risen 11 percent in the past 10 years.

Today, the average household with credit card debt has a balance of $16,061, totaling $747 billion owed by U.S. consumers, according to NerdWallet. The average household with credit card debt pays $1,292 in credit card interest each year.

The average household with any kind of debt owes $132,529, including mortgages, totaling $12.35 trillion across the country.

NerdWallet reported that income growth has not kept up with the cost of living, leading more Americans to debt. While median household income has increased 28 percent since 2003, the cost of living has gone up 30 percent. Expenses like medical costs have outpaced income growth by 57 percent, while food and drink has increased by 36 percent since 2003.

Housing costs have increased 32 percent, with the average American household owing $172,806 for mortgages, totaling $8.35 trillion for the country. Auto loans have also impacted debt, with the average household owing $28,535, or $1.14 trillion for the country. $49,042 is what the average household owes for student loans, equaling $1.28 trillion.

Despite student loans typically being blamed for lack of homeownership, NerdWallet found that income actually grew more than education costs since 2003 by 2 percent. Student loan debt has increased 186 percent in the last 10 years, but the pace has slowed. Student loan balances grew 6.32 percent between September 2015 and September 2016, the lowest annual growth since 2003, NerdWallet reported.

By the end of last year, the total debt owed was predicted to be higher than the that owed at the start of the Great Recession, thanks to student loans and mortgages. “By all measures, consumers are handling their debt far more responsibly than they have in years past, likely due to a combination of issuers tightening their lending rules and consumers paying their minimums more responsibly,” said Sean McQuay, NerdWallet’s credit and banking expert.

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