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Auto, Student Loans Lift Borrowing to Record Levels in February

April 16, 2013

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve reported last Friday that U.S. consumer borrowing rose $18.2 billion in February to a record $2.8 trillion. Nearly all of the gains were in the category that covers student and auto loans, which grew from $11.1 billion in January to $17.6 billion in February.

The Fed’s report doesn’t separate auto loan from student loans, but according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student loan debt has been the biggest driver of borrowing since the recession ended in June 2009.

The report also showed that consumers continue to be cautious with credit card debt, which remains 17.2 percent below the peak set in June 2008. From January to February, the category increased by just $533 million after a $1.7 billion gain in January.

The Federal Reserve’s borrowing report covers auto loans, student loans and credit cards. It excludes mortgages, home equity loans and other loans tied to real estate.

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