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The Federal Reserve’s latest G.19 Consumer Credit Report shows trends in consumer credit, excluding loans secured by real estate, through May 2020.

In May, consumer credit decreased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.3% from the previous month, with revolving debt1 decreasing by 28.6% and nonrevolving debt2 increasing by 2.3 percent. Consumer credit totaled $4.1 trillion on a seasonally adjusted basis, with $996 billion in revolving debt and $3.1 trillion in nonrevolving debt. This is a decrease of $18 billion from the previous month, with revolving debt decreasing by $24 billion and non-revolving credit offsetting the decrease by $6 billion. This month is the second straight month in which total consumer credit declined.

The above figure shows that the decrease in consumer credit in May was less pronounced compared to the decrease in April, which showed a record number in job losses and unemployment claims. The slightly less decrease correlates strongly with the increase in Consumer Confidence, which increased in June for the second straight month. These trends are consistent with the decline in initial and new jobless claims, as the economy trudges slowly in its recovery from the virus-induced recession. As a result, consumers are cautious about their debt holdings, notably in revolving debt as the May data indicate. The decrease in revolving debt by 29%, which was half of the previous month’s percentage decline, is a sign of rapid paydown of credit card balances. Interestingly, the monthly student loan increases of $25.8 million for the first quarter of 2020 were $8 million lower than those of the first quarter of the previous year on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.


Notes:

  1. Revolving credit plans are largely composed of credit card debt but also include home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). These may be unsecured or secured by collateral and allow a consumer to borrow up to a prearranged limit and repay the debt in one or more installments. The G.19 Consumer Credit report excludes HELOCS and home equity loans, as they are secured by real estate.
  2. Nonrevolving credit is closed-end credit extended to consumers that is repaid on a prearranged repayment schedule and may be secured or unsecured.