by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Household debt increased by $51 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015, and now totals $12.12 trillion, or more than $40,000 per household, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
This level of debt is 4.4 percent shy of the record-high household debt of $12.68 trillion seen in 2008.
Mortgage debt represents the largest share of overall household debt. In the fourth quarter of 2015, however, most of the growth of the $51 billion increase came from student loan debt.
The majority of the $12 trillion in household debt comes from mortgage debt, which totaled $8.25 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Student loans were the next largest contributor at $1.23 trillion, followed by auto loans at $1.06 trillion, then credit card debt at $733 billion, and finally home equity lines of credit at $487 billion.
While mortgage balances contribute to 68 percent of the $12.12 trillion in total household debt, they declined by $11 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Student loan debt was the biggest driver of growth in household debt, increasing by $29 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015. Of the student loan debt incurred in the last three months of 2015, 11.5 percent was 90 days past due or in default.