The Federal Reserve Board found that U.S. consumer credit was up 3 percent at the annual rate in June, its slowest pace since October. Total debt is now $2.577 trillion, up from $2.571 trillion in May.
The growth in credit came from nonrevolving lines, which rose 7.2 percent from $1.703 billion to $1.713 billion. Much of the increase in this segment over the past year or so has stemmed from auto and student loans. This continued to occur in June, with student lending from the federal government increasing from $464.9 billion to $470.7 billion.
Meanwhile, revolving credit declined by 5.1 percent. This includes credit cards and other lines of credit, and it reverses 10.5 percent gain in May. The previous month’s increase had suggested that consumers might be more willing to take on debt for their purchases. This latest data point tends to reinforce a different conclusion, with revolving lines virtually unchanged from where they were six months ago.
Therefore, when you exclude auto and student loans from the analysis, overall consumer debt has not changed that much so far in 2012. Indeed, the most recent data from the Census Bureau found that consumer spending was flat in June, consistent with a pull-back in purchases, even with personal income rising.
Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.