WASHINGTON – Auto loan delinquencies improved in the second quarter despite another record rate of consumer delinquencies in three other key loan categories, according to the American Bankers Association (ABA)'s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin.

Continued job losses, shorter work weeks and falling incomes contributed to delinquency rates hitting record quarterly highs in home equity loans, home equity lines of credit, and bank cards. The composite ratio, which tracks eight closed-end installment loan categories, also hit a record high at 3.35 percent of all accounts (seasonally adjusted), compared to 3.23 percent of all accounts in the previous quarter. The ABA report defines a delinquency as a late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.

ABA Chief Economist James Chessen said the high consumer credit delinquency rates represent the cumulative effect of the longest recession since the Great Depression. "Six consecutive quarters of job losses have taken their toll," Chessen said. "With jobs lost and work hours cut, it doesn't take long for the financial pressure to become overwhelming. Falling behind on debt payments is an unfortunate side effect of high unemployment and a frozen job market.

“The picture won't change until the labor market improves and the economy picks up steam. This is going to take time," he said.

Direct auto loan delinquencies fell 55 basis points to 2.46 percent for all accounts. Indirect auto loan delinquencies (arranged through auto dealers) dropped to 3.26 percent for all accounts, down from 3.42 percent in the previous quarter.

Bank card delinquencies rose 26 basis points to a record 5.01 percent of all accounts.  Record delinquency rates occurred in home equity loans — up 49 basis points to 4.01 percent of all accounts — and in home equity lines of credit — up three basis points to 1.92 percent of all accounts.

"The good news is that consumers are clearly being more cautious by saving more, spending less and making great efforts to repair their balance sheets," he added.

The second quarter composite ratio is made up of the following closed-end loans.  All figures are seasonally adjusted based upon the number of accounts.

Increased Delinquencies:

• Home equity loan delinquencies rose from 3.52 percent to 4.01 percent.

• Marine loan delinquencies rose from 2.04 percent to 2.28 percent.

• Personal loan delinquencies rose from 3.47 percent to 3.90 percent.

• Property improvement loan delinquencies rose from 1.46 percent to 1.79 percent.

• RV loan delinquencies rose from 1.52 percent to 1.72 percent.

Decreased Delinquencies:

• Direct auto loan delinquencies fell from 3.01 percent to 2.46 percent.

• Indirect auto loan delinquencies fell from 3.42 percent to 3.26 percent.

• Mobile home loan delinquencies fell from 3.70 percent to 3.53 percent.