Increased Growth in Credit Card Debt Reflects Growing Confidence in Economy

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, July 31st, 2015

American consumers continue to show signs they are recovering from the Great Recession by steadily increasing their credit card debt, according to data from the latest National Consumer Credit Trends report released today by Equifax.

Total credit card debt rose to $634 billion at the end of the second quarter, a 5 percent jump compared to $604 billion a year ago. The Equifax data also revealed the rate of growth in credit card debt more than doubled year over year in many of the metro areas hit hardest by the housing market crash, and more than tripled in other cities less affected by the crash. This suggests that consumer confidence in the American economy is growing across the board.

In each of the nation's top 25 metro areas, consumers increased credit card debt by at least 3 percent in 2015 compared to a year earlier. This is a marked contrast to the second quarter of 2014, when just eight of the top 25 markets saw as much as a 3 percent gain over the previous year.

"Every major market has seen increases in credit card debt, even those cities where the housing market issues are not completely resolved," said Assad Lazarus, interim unit leader of Equifax Personal Information Solutions. "This shows that American consumers are more confident about their financial futures, and that means the U.S. economy has entered an expansion mode."

The metro areas that saw the sharpest increases in year-over-year credit card debt were Miami (9.5 percent), Las Vegas (9.4 percent), and Orlando (9.3 percent), while those with the smallest increases were Minneapolis (3 percent), Detroit (3.7 percent), and Seattle (3.8 percent).

Previous Equifax credit trend reports indicated that while consumers were taking on more credit card debt, the increases were much smaller in areas with slow economic recovery, such as Detroit. Yet the latest data shows that even Detroit consumers saw a credit card debt growth rate of 222 percent from 2014 to 2015. Other cities with huge growth rates include Phoenix (308 percent) and St. Louis (317 percent).

"These trends suggest that American consumers are getting on with their lives," Lazarus added.