June 27, 2013

Decline in Consumer Debt Leveling Off in Many U.S. Cities, Reports Equifax

Trend Indicates Stabilization of Economy

ATLANTA, June 27, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Consumers continued to see their total debt decrease in most major U.S. metropolitan areas in the first quarter of 2013, though the sharp declines some markets saw in 2012 have leveled off, according to new National Consumer Credit Trends Report data from Equifax (NYSE:EFX). Overall consumer debt fell from $11.02 trillion in the first quarter of 2012 to $10.92 trillion in the first quarter of 2013.

The decline in total consumer debt reflects mortgage debt write-offs as well as consumer efforts to pay down mortgage obligations; however, other forms of consumer debt are increasing. Over the past year, total mortgage and home equity debt obligations fell 3.1% to $8.4 trillion and total non-mortgage debt owed by consumers rose 7.1% to $2.5 trillion.

Consumers in Las Vegas, Miami and Phoenix areas saw the biggest declines over the past year in total debt outstanding at 5.9%, 5.5% and 4.3% respectively. The housing bust hit these markets early and harshly, resulting in record numbers of foreclosures. In a completed foreclosure, the borrower cedes the property used as collateral on the loan to the lender and the debt is extinguished.

Consumers in four markets increased their consumer debt from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013. In Dallas, Houston, St. Louis and Pittsburgh, consumers saw their total debt levels inch up. Houston was the only metro area among these four in which total mortgage debt also rose over the period. All four of these metro areas have diversified economies enjoying strong growth and relatively low unemployment supporting consumer willingness to take on additional debt.  

"It is encouraging to see credit demand and supply continuing to come into balance," said Trey Loughran, president of Equifax Personal Solutions. "Lack of access to credit impedes growth, and access to credit keeps the wheels of the economy moving."

At the same time, consumers in many cities showed modest decreases in consumer debt, suggesting a more disciplined approach to credit. "We are seeing changes in consumer behavior," Loughran said. "People are paying down their debt faster and taking their access to credit more seriously. Many consumers got into trouble with credit before the recession, spent too much and are now approaching spending with greater caution."

Total Consumer Debt: Top 25 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas
Q1, 2012 v. Q1, 2013 Q1, 2012 Q1, 2013 % Change
1 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island NY-NJ-CT-PA $959,618,520,146 $938,468,651,855 -2.20%
2 Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County CA $892,292,665,504 $861,739,259,994 -3.42%
3 Chicago-Gary-Kenosha IL-IN-WI CMSA $382,708,037,429 $372,731,407,957 -2.61%
4 Washington-Baltimore DC-MD-VA-WV CMSA $544,024,983,070 $541,338,712,268 -0.49%
5 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose CA CMSA $524,502,467,195 $507,238,080,540 -3.29%
6 Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City PA-NJ-DE-MD CMSA $261,430,117,085 $259,918,112,912 -0.58%
7 Dallas-Fort Worth TX CMSA $193,540,499,471 $196,925,286,559 1.75%
8 Boston-Worcester-Lawrence MA-NH-ME-CT CMSA $287,841,054,928 $286,021,626,000 -0.63%
9 Houston-Galveston-Brazoria TX CMSA $163,729,459,232 $169,865,864,632 3.75%
10 Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint MI CMSA $163,297,682,281 $160,749,503,492 -1.56%
11 Atlanta GA MSA $210,586,185,469 $207,877,977,204 -1.29%
12 Miami-Fort Lauderdale FL CMSA $169,342,123,659 $159,986,313,992 -5.52%
13 Phoenix-Mesa AZ MSA $169,496,061,552 $162,069,314,210 -4.38%
14 Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton WA CMSA $231,005,533,736 $228,660,827,925 -1.01%
15 Minneapolis-St. Paul MN-WI MSA $155,039,404,142 $153,981,106,513 -0.68%
16 San Diego CA MSA $180,856,593,117 $175,820,632,948 -2.78%
17 Denver-Boulder-Greeley CO CMSA $149,499,496,369 $149,150,455,777 -0.23%
18 Cleveland-Akron OH CMSA $85,660,130,114 $85,104,532,410 -0.65%
19 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater FL MSA $96,523,326,550 $93,684,615,425 -2.94%
20 St. Louis MO-IL MSA $91,563,635,497 $91,725,743,586 0.18%
21 Portland-Salem OR-WA CMSA $117,129,713,588 $116,458,965,521 -0.57%
22 Pittsburgh PA MSA $62,682,906,744 $63,911,208,203 1.96%
23 Las Vegas NV-AZ MSA $78,851,795,225 $74,186,390,871 -5.92%
24 Sacramento-Yolo CA CMSA $102,502,995,873 $98,127,848,011 -4.27%
25 Orlando FL MSA $78,811,924,583 $76,271,700,629 -3.22%

About Equifax

Equifax Personal Solutions empowers consumers with the confidence and control to be their financial best. Find out more about Equifax's innovative suite of credit monitoring and identity protection products at www.equifax.com. Learn about identity theft and how to help protect yourself and your family at IdentityProtection.com. Get smart information on everything from credit to retirement, all in one place at the Equifax Finance Blog, blog.equifax.com.

Equifax is a global leader in consumer and commercial information solutions, providing businesses of all sizes and consumers with information they can trust. We organize and assimilate data on more than 500 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide, and use advanced analytics and proprietary technology to create and deliver customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or has investments in 18 countries and is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. For more information, please visit www.equifax.com.

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         Michele Cacdac-Jones

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         michele.cacdac-jones@equifax.com

 

 

 

 

 


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