Research and Statistics

Infographic: 2016 sees card debt, delinquency uptick


Though the number of people who fail to pay debt is not as high as it was in the Great Recession, it has started to increase in 2016

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Although fewer Americans are carrying credit card debt or making late payments than when the Great Recession ended

seven years ago, recent survey data indicate these and other negative card behaviors have seen increases in 2016.

The annual survey released by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that Americans who report carrying a month-to-month card balance of at least $1,000 hit a post-recession low of 17 percent in 2015, but then rose to 20 percent this year. When the recession ended in 2009, that figure was 26 percent.

The 2016 upturn was uniformly found across all carried balances, with reports of any debt amount rising from 33 percent a year ago to 35 percent today. Meanwhile, 1 in 10 Americans reported carrying a month-to-month debt of $5,000 or more in

2016. Last year, it was just 1 in 12 (8 percent).

Reports of making a late payment over the previous 12 months similarly ticked upward in 2016, from 6 percent to 7 percent. Yet even the higher 2016 rate is less than half of the 15 percent delinquency rate seen in 2009. Reports of missing a payment altogether are also at half their Great Recession levels (4 percent this year vs. 8 percent in 2009).

Reports of paying less than the minimum due shows a slightly different arc over the past seven years. The 2016 rise from 4 percent to 5 percent is the second consecutive increase, with today’s figure standing only slightly below the 7 percent rate from 2009.

Conducted for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Boeing Employees’ Credit Union, the 2016 Financial Literacy Survey was administered online by Harris Poll between March 22 and April 6 among 1,668 adults ages 18 and older. Weighted to represent the demographics of the U.S. population, the survey results were released April 25.

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