The average amount of debt held by delinquent consumers increased by 17 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to data released by FICO. The mean total debt for consumers who were delinquent by at least 60 days on at least one account grew from $53,706 in October 2007 to $62,642 in October 2012, adjusted for inflation.
The jump is primarily due to increases in student-loan and mortgage debt. Student-loan debt surged 89 percent over the five-year period for delinquent consumers, while the mean student-loan debt rose 58 percent for consumers who were not delinquent for more than 60 days on any accounts. The mean mortgage loan debt was 14 percent higher in 2012 for delinquent consumers, but actually declined 22 percent for non-delinquent consumers.
For all other credit excluding student loans, credit cards, mortgages, or auto loans, the average debt rose 61 percent among delinquent consumers and fell by 28 percent among non-delinquent consumers. The analysis used data from 10 million depersonalized U.S. consumer credit bureau records. "This is a tale of two Americas," said FICO's Andrew Jennings. "Most Americans have deleveraged, bringing their total debt down, but debt loads have risen for the one in five Americans who have problems making payments. Ultimately it is up to the lenders and debt collectors to tailor their approaches to different consumers in order to increase their yield, and help customers get back on track."