The State of Household Debt in America


This post is by Aran Ali from Visual Capitalist


The growing household debt in America

The Briefing

  • U.S. household debt stands at $14.56 trillion, and has doubled since 2003
  • Student loan debt has expanded a colossal 550% in the same time frame

The State of Household Debt in America

American households are becoming increasingly indebted.

In 2003, total household debt was $7.23 trillion, but that figure has recently doubled to $14.56 trillion in 2020. With just under 130 million households in the country, this equates to an average of $118,000 of debt per household.

Here’s how the various forms of U.S. household debt compare.

Type of Debt2003 (in trillions)2020 (in trillions)% Growth
Mortgage$4.94$10.04+103%
Home Equity Revolving$0.24$0.35+45%
Auto Loan$0.64$1.37+137%
Credit Card$0.69$0.82+18%
Student Loan$0.24$1.56+550%
Other$0.48$0.42-12%
Total$7.23$14.46100%

Mortgages: Steep Price to Pay for Home Ownership

Making up roughly 70% of all household debt, and growing $5.1 trillion since 2003, mortgage debt now stands at $10.04 trillion.

A fundamental driver of mortgage activity is interest rates. Given the two variables tend to have an inverse relationship with one another, interest rates have a big impact on the affordability of housing. As long as U.S. interest rates remain near 200-year lows, its likely mortgages will maintain at elevated levels.

Students Continue Struggling with Student Debt

The second-largest form of debt is student loans. Although not quite the size of mortgages in raw dollars, student debt is the fastest growing as a percentage, having (Read more...)