U.S. Household Debt Falls for First Time in 6 Years
Americans cut back on credit cards and other types of consumer borrowing in the second quarter as the pandemic froze the economy, sending overall household debt down for the first time in six years even as mortgage loans continued to rise.
Total debt declined 0.2% to $14.27 trillion, from $14.3 trillion in the first quarter, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said in a report published Thursday. The decline was led by a drop in outstanding credit-card balances, which fell by $76 billion as shutdowns limited consumer spending and households set aside more cash to clear their liabilities.
Meanwhile, mortgage borrowing rose by $63 billion in the quarter to $9.78 trillion. Almost 70% of mortgage originations were among borrowers with a credit score of at least 760, the highest percentage since records started in 2003.
Record-low mortgage rates -- the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage costs less than 2.9% -- have prompted Americans with good credit to refinance and cut their borrowing costs. But that opportunity hasn’t been available to everyone. Mortgage credit availability is down more than 30% from a year ago and near its lowest level since 2014, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.