In the first quarter of 2021, consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate by 5.1%, with revolving debt1 increasing by 2.4% and nonrevolving debt2 increasing by 5.9%. Consumer credit totaled $4.2 trillion on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, with $980 billion comprised of revolving debt and $3.3 trillion in nonrevolving debt. This outstanding level marks a total increase of $54 billion from the end of last year, with revolving credit increasing by $5.9 billion and non-revolving credit increasing by $47.7 billion.
The first quarter consumer credit data, particularly that of February and March, also indicate an upswing for revolving credit that had previously been experiencing consecutive monthly declines in the ongoing pandemic. The first quarter’s revolving credit data finished strongly with monthly growth rates of 10.0% and 7.9% in its last two months. With a third round of stimulus payments arriving for many Americans in the new year, consumers felt at greater ease to make expenditures that would have to be paid in the short term.
With a new quarter’s data, the latest G.19 report also featured entries for the current levels of outstanding Student Loan and Motor Vehicle Loan debt, which were $1.7 trillion and $1.2 trillion, respectively, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.
Despite the overall increase in total consumer credit in March, the two depository institutional sectors that showed declines in outstanding debt were credit unions and nonfinancial businesses, falling to the lowest levels since the first half of 2020. This may portend well for the future direction of the economy, as borrowers from both institutions represented the hardest-hit sectors of the economy at the outset of the virus-induced recession.
- Revolving credit plans are largely composed of credit card debt but also include home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). These may be unsecured or secured by collateral and allow a consumer to borrow up to a prearranged limit and repay the debt in one or more installments. The G.19 Consumer Credit report excludes HELOCS and home equity loans, as they are secured by real estate.
- Nonrevolving credit is closed-end credit extended to consumers that is repaid on a prearranged repayment schedule and may be secured or unsecured.