Overdue Bills Are Rising With US Debt Delinquencies, Fed Survey Shows

US household debt has reached a record and more borrowers are struggling to keep up.

Overall US household debt rose to $17.7 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit released Tuesday. That’s an increase of $184 billion, or 1.1%, from the fourth quarter.

The data highlights the mounting financial pressures on American families in an age of elevated inflation. The persistent rise in the prices of essentials such as food and rent have strained household budgets, pushing people to borrow against their credit cards to pay for necessities.

Consumers have added $3.4 trillion in debt since the pandemic, and that increased debt bears much higher interest rates.

consumer debt

Total credit card debt stood at $1.12 trillion in the first quarter of 2024, according to the report. That’s down slightly from the $1.13 trillion in the fourth quarter, in line with seasonal patterns of consumers paying debt incurred over the holidays. But credit card balances are up almost 25% from the first quarter of 2020.