Consumers in Kansas and Missouri slightly increased their borrowing in the third quarter this year, as they continued to take on more automobile-related debt, according to a new survey released Monday.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, in its latest quarterly consumer credit report, said average consumer debt in Kansas was $16,127 in the third quarter and $15,347 in Missouri.
That was up $110 in Kansas from the third quarter of 2013, while in Missouri consumer debt edged up $70 from a year earlier.
Still, consumer borrowing in the two states remains well below the national average of $17,205, the report said.
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The consumer debt primarily covered auto loans, student loans and credit card debt. It excluded first mortgages on home loans.
Nationwide, consumers have been increasing their borrowing since the end of the recession. Some economists expect that the strong gains in employment seen this year may make consumers more comfortable about taking on more debt in the coming year.
For the seven states in the Kansas City Fed district, average consumer debt held relatively steady at $16,105 during the third quarter compared with a year earlier.
The category that covered auto loans increased in Kansas, Missouri and the U.S. as a whole during the quarter, according to the report.
“The data suggest a large share of auto loans was made relatively recently,” said Kelly Edmiston, senior economist at the Kansas City Fed. “In addition, because the average outstanding auto loan balance for the region has increased to $14,000, consumers may be purchasing more expensive vehicles, reflecting higher income and economic security.”
The report also noted that student-loan debt has also increased “fairly rapidly” in recent quarters.
While borrowing edged higher during the third quarter, consumer credit delinquency rates remained relatively unchanged at 4.1 percent in the region, the report said. The delinquency numbers, reflecting loans that are at least 30 days past due, are also sharply down from the peak of four years ago, Edmiston said.
In Kansas, the delinquency rate was 4.2 percent in the third quarter, while it was 4.7 percent in Missouri. The national delinquency rate was 5.8 percent.
In addition to Kansas and the western part of Missouri, the Kansas City Fed’s 10th District covers Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma and northern New Mexico.