Americans are falling behind on car loan payments in record numbers.
CNN Business reported that more than 7 million car loans were past due by at least 90 days in the fourth quarter, according to data released this week from the New York Federal Reserve.
That’s 1.3 million more past-due loans than during the previous peak in 2011, which followed the Great Recession. The unemployment rate in 2011 was more than twice its current level.
The growing problem of people falling behind on car loans runs counter to the picture of a generally strong U.S. economy. It is especially disturbing because the delinquency rate for car loans is lower than for other types of borrowing, such as credit cards and student loans.
“The substantial and growing number of distressed borrowers suggests that not all Americans have benefited from the strong labor market and warrants continued monitoring and analysis of this sector,” said the Fed’s report.
About 4.5% of all car loans are delinquent today. That’s lower than the end of the recession, when the rate rose to 5.3% at the end of 2010.
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