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Americans' household debt edges up to $13.21 trillion

Reuters logo Reuters 5 days ago Richard Leong

U.S. household debt grew by $63 billion, or 0.5 percent, to $13.21 trillion in the first quarter, driven largely by the increase in mortgage balances, a New York Federal Reserve quarterly report released Thursday showed.

The amount of mortgage balances rose by $57 billion in the first three months of 2018 to $8.94 trillion. Families, however, paid down their home equity loans, which fell by $8 billion to $436 billion, according to the report.

"Although household debt has been growing for five years, its growth has been slow relative to earlier periods, as mortgage debt has continued to be relatively flat," N.Y. Fed analysts wrote about the report's findings.

Overall tight lending standards have likely contributed to the modest increase in mortgage debt, they said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. housing sector has continued to its recovery since the global credit crisis a decade ago, according to N.Y. Fed analysts.

However, the housing recovery and its impact have been uneven across age groups and between homeowners and renters, they noted.

"In particular, the factors that determine housing wealth are not evenly spread across the population, and those relationships have changed since the pre-financial crisis housing boom," N.Y. Fed's director of research Beverly Hirtle said in prepared remarks on the quarterly report.

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