WASHINGTON /January 8, 2018 (AP)(STL.News) — U.S. consumers in November ran up nearly $28 billion in new debt on their credit cards and in new student, auto and other loans, a sign of growing confidence in the economy.
The Federal Reserve said Monday that consumer borrowing grew 8.8 percent, the most in more than two years, to $3.83 trillion. The Fed’s monthly consumer credit report does not cover home mortgages or any other loans secured by real estate such as home equity loans.
Americans are increasingly confident in the economy and are willing to borrow more to fund their consumption. Surveys show that Americans’ confidence in the economy reached a 17-year high in November, though it declined a bit last month. And retailers say early reports from holiday shopping have been mostly positive.
A category of debt made up mostly of credit cards jumped $11.2 billion, the most in a year, to $1.02 trillion. A measure of mostly student and auto loans increased $16.8 billion, also the most in roughly one year, to $2.8 trillion.
Economists track consumer spending closely because it makes up 70 percent of the economy. Growth topped 3 percent at an annual rate in the spring and summer, the best six-month pace since 2014.
For years after the Great Recession, Americans paid down — or defaulted — on debts that were run up during the housing bubble that preceded the downturn. But in the past two years, Americans have increasingly been willing to borrow more, particularly in the form of student loans. Auto loans and credit card lending has also ramped up.