US household debt levels held back in first quarter by consumers reluctant to borrow

Associated Press

U.S. household debt levels were mostly unchanged in the first three months of this year, held back by tight mortgage credit standards and consumer reluctance to borrow heavily.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says total household debt ticked up 0.2 percent to $11.85 trillion, a nearly flat reading after two quarters of increases. Household debt, which includes mortgages, student and auto loans, and credit cards, is still 6.5 percent below its 2008 peak of $12.7 trillion.

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The figures suggest that lenders' high credit standards and reluctance among consumers to run up debt continued to weigh on growth.

Americans spent cautiously in the first quarter, even as gas prices fell sharply and hiring picked up. Total credit card debt fell $16 billion, or 2.3 percent, during that period.