WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans accelerated their borrowing in
December for the second straight month, running up more credit card
debt and taking out loans to buy cars and attend school.
Consumer borrowing rose by $19.3 billion in December after a
$20.4 billion gain in November, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday.
The two increases were the biggest monthly gains in a decade.
Total consumer borrowing is now at a seasonally adjusted $2.5
trillion. That nearly matches the pre-recession borrowing level.
And it is up 4.4 percent from the September 2010 post-recession
The rise in borrowing could be a sign that Americans are more
confident in the economy. But consumers are also borrowing more at
a time when their wages haven't kept pace with inflation.
The outlook for hiring has improved, which could help boost
In January, companies added 243,000 net jobs, and the
unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years.
Still, without higher pay, many could pull back further on
spending. Consumer spending was flat in December, and the savings
rate fell. Consumer spending is important because it accounts for
70 percent of economic activity.
The Federal Reserve's borrowing report covers auto loans,
student loans and credit cards. It excludes mortgages, home equity
loans and other loans tied to real estate.
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