ATLANTA, April 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A continued reduction in first and second mortgage debt has kept overall consumer debt from growing in most major U.S. metro areas, according to the latest Equifax (NYSE: EFX) National Consumer Credit Trends Report.
Of the nation's largest 25 markets, just six experienced increases in total consumer debt through March 2015 compared to the same period a year ago. The metro areas that posted increases included Houston (+4.4%), Dallas (+2.5%), Denver (+1.3%), Pittsburgh (+1.1%), Phoenix (+0.4%) and Portland (+0.07%).
If mortgages and home equity loans were not considered, however, every metro market would have shown an increase year over year, said Assad Lazarus, interim unit leader of Equifax Personal Information Solutions. Mortgages are a major driver of overall consumer debt because they typically are much larger in size than other consumer loans tracked in the report, including auto loans, retail credit cards and bank credit cards.
"The latest numbers show that while the mortgage market continues to heal, the overall appetite for debt is growing across the board as consumers continue to open their wallets," said Lazarus. "Every major city is exhibiting growth in non-mortgage debt, which is a reflection of the improvement in the U.S. economy."
Total consumer debt was $9.99 trillion in the first quarter, a slight decline from $10.1 trillion a year earlier, according to the Equifax report. Of the 19 metro areas that experienced decreases in total consumer debt, those with the largest declines were Miami (-3.6%), Los Angeles (-2.6%), Chicago (-2.5%), San Diego (-2.2%) and New York (-2.03%), all of which were due entirely to reductions in mortgage debt.
Many of those markets continue to work through a huge backlog of foreclosures that came during the Great Recession, said Lazarus. He noted that the only cities that saw an improvement in mortgage lending in the first quarter were Dallas, Denver and Houston – the same cities that topped the overall consumer debt list.
Equifax is a global leader in consumer, commercial and workforce information solutions that provides businesses of all sizes and consumers with insight and information they can trust. Equifax organizes and assimilates data on more than 600 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide. The company's significant investments in differentiated data, its expertise in advanced analytics to explore and develop new multi-source data solutions, and its leading-edge proprietary technology enables it to create and deliver unparalleled customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or has investments in 19 countries and is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. In 2014, Equifax was nominated as a Bloomberg BusinessWeek Top 50 company; its CIO was listed as one of the top 100 by CIO magazine; and the company was named to the Fintech 100 list, was recognized as a top 20 company to work for by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and was named a 2014 InformationWeek Elite 100 Winner. For more information, please visit www.equifax.com.
TOTAL CONSUMER DEBT: Top 25 Metropolitan Statistical Areas
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island NY-NJ-CT-PA
Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County CA
Washington-Baltimore DC-MD-VA-WV CMSA
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose CA CMSA
Chicago-Gary-Kenosha IL-IN-WI CMSA
Boston-Worcester-Lawrence MA-NH-ME-CT CMSA
Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City PA-NJ-DE-MD CMSA