Friday, March 22, 2013

Household Debt: 2011 Update

One of the most significant findings that emerges from the Census Bureau's 2011 update of household debt is this: American households hit a financial wall during the 2000s, and we are still reeling from the impact.

Fewer households are in debt. The percentage of households with debt fell from 74 percent in 2000 to 69 percent in 2011.

Median debt is declining. In 2011, median household debt was $70,000. Although this was far above the $50,971 median of 2000, it was less than the $74,619 peak of 2010, after adjusting for inflation.

Credit card debt has plunged. The percentage of households with credit card debt fell from 51 to 38 percent between 2000 and 2011. The median amount owed by those with credit card debt climbed slightly, rising from $3,353 to $3,500.

"Other" debt is a growing problem. Unfortunately the Census Bureau's statistics do not break down "other" debt to reveal its components--student loans, medical debt, and money owed to individuals. The percentage of households with "other" debt climbed from 10.7 percent in 2000 to 18.6 percent in 2011. By age, the percentage of households with "other" debt looks like this...

Under age 35: 31.3%
Aged 35 to 44: 22.9%
Aged 45 to 54: 20.5%
Aged 55 to 64: 15.0%
Aged 65 or older: 5.4%

For those with "other" debt, the median amount owed more than doubled between 2000 and 2011, after adjusting for inflation, rising from $4,024 to $10,000.

Source: Census Bureau, Wealth and Asset Ownership, 2000 to 2011

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