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National 60-Day Delinquency Rate Remains Flat In 4Q 2009

March 01, 2010

CHICAGO — The national 60-day auto delinquency rate showed no change between the third and fourth quarters of 2009 at 0.81 percent, according to  TransUnion's quarterly analysis of trends in the auto industry. The year-over-year delinquency rate at the national level decreased by 5.81 percent in the fourth quarter.

The report is part of an ongoing series of quarterly consumer lending sector analyses focusing on credit card, auto loan and mortgage data available on TransUnion’s Web site. Information for this analysis is culled quarterly from approximately 27 million anonymous, randomly sampled, individual credit files, representing approximately 10 percent of credit-active U.S. consumers and providing a real-life perspective on how they are managing their credit health.

Quarterly Statistics

Auto loan delinquency was highest in Mississippi and Alabama at 1.45 percent and 1.39 percent, respectively. The lowest auto loan delinquency rates were found in Alaska (0.29 percent), North Dakota (0.32 percent) and South Dakota (0.41 percent). The largest improvements in delinquency from the previous quarter were found in Alaska (35.6 percent decrease from 0.45 percent) and Idaho (28 percent decrease from 0.67 percent).

Average auto debt nationally increased slightly between the third and fourth quarters of 2009 from $12,542 to $12,568. The year-over-year auto debt fell by 1.1 percent. The state with the largest auto debt burden was Nevada at $14,376, followed by Texas at $14,372. The lowest average auto debt was in Nebraska at $10,738. The states with the steepest annual increases in average auto debt as a percentage were Michigan (+3.47 percent), Tennessee (+1.6 percent) and Montana (+1.56 percent). New Mexico experienced the sharpest drop in average auto debt (-3.0 percent) followed by Nevada (-2.3 percent).

Analysis

“Going against traditional seasonal patterns, the flattening of auto delinquency rates in the fourth quarter may be an optimistic sign for payment behavior over the remainder of this year,” said Peter Turek, automotive vice president in TransUnion’s financial services business unit. “Since 2000, auto delinquency rates have increased in the fourth quarter except for one occasion back in 2003. In fact, at the start of the recession (fourth quarter of 2007), the auto delinquency rate increased nearly 15 percent from the prior quarter. Part of the reason why we may be seeing a gradual turnaround in delinquency rates is the impact of new lower risk loans over the past several quarters including new loans from the popular government program, Cash for Clunkers.”

On a state-level basis, 18 states experienced a drop in their quarter-to-quarter delinquency rates while 35 showed a drop on a year-over-year basis.

Forecast

TransUnion’s national 60-day auto delinquency rate forecast has been revised downward over the course of the current year. TransUnion projects auto delinquencies to be in the range of 0.75 and 0.80 percent by year’s end.

“Given a more positive outlook for gross domestic product and other economic indicators except for employment, our current forecasting models point to a national 60-day auto delinquency rate of 0.65 percent by midyear, a decrease of 19.7 percent compared to fourth quarter 2009,” said Turek. “However, the seasonality and forecast of car sales will influence delinquency throughout the rest of this year and into 2011.”

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