Fueled by a stronger economy and improved housing market, many of the nation’s largest metro areas experienced increases in total consumer debt during the third quarter, according to the latest Equifax National Consumer Credit Trends Report.
Of the nation’s top 25 metro markets, 17 posted increases in total consumer debt in the third quarter compared to the same period a year earlier. Houston (+6.5 percent), Denver (+4.3 percent) and Dallas (+4.1 percent) easily outpaced the other cities. Also in the top five in terms of growth were Phoenix (+2.2 percent) and Boston (+1.6 percent).
Several of the pacesetting cities reported large increases due, in part, to growth in their labor force, defined as the total adult population employed or looking for work. Houston, for example, had more than double the increase in year over year labor force growth than the rest of the U.S. as of the end of the third quarter (4.3 percent vs. 2.0 percent). Additionally, each of the top 5 metro areas–with the exception of Phoenix–have unemployment rates significantly below the U.S. average.
“In general, it appears the economies of many of the largest metro areas are doing well and those cities are growing again,” said Trey Loughran, president of Equifax Personal Solutions. “People are finding and keeping their jobs, which in turn allows them to feel confident enough to use credit to buy a home, a car, or new furniture.”
Three Florida markets, Miami (-3.3 percent), Tampa (-1.1 percent) and Orlando (-0.29 percent), witnessed declines in borrowing in the third quarter. Joining them with negative numbers were the Midwest cities of Cleveland (-0.84 percent), Detroit (-0.70 percent) and Chicago (-0.54 percent), along with Philadelphia (-0.52 percent) and Las Vegas (-0.13 percent).
These cities saw a decrease in overall debt because of a drop in mortgage debt. However, every one of the top 25 metro markets saw positive growth in auto, bank card and retail card debt.
“Areas such as Miami and Las Vegas are still feeling the effects of the housing market decline, and consumers are slower to take on mortgage or home equity debt,” said Loughran.
Consumer debt for the U.S. as a whole grew by nearly one percent year over year, from $9.82 trillion in the third quarter of 2013 to $9.91 trillion in 2014, according to the Equifax report. The consumer debt totals include lending for mortgages, autos, home equity loans, bankcards and retail.
To view the entire list of 25 metropolitan areas, please visit the Equifax website at: http://investor.equifax.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=887120