ATLANTA —U.S. consumers were much more diligent in paying against their debts last year, resulting in significant declines in delinquency rates among the majority of tracked lending sectors in Equifax's December National Credit Trends Report.

The data also reflects a cumulative decline in total consumer debt, which now stands at $11.1 trillion, according to Equifax. This represents a nearly 11 percent decline in debt from its peak of $12.4 trillion in October 2008. Most tracked lending sectors reported double-digit declines in delinquency rates for 2011.

The industry’s 60-plus days past due rates declined by 19 percent last year. The rate declined 23 percent for banks, according to the report. Auto loan amount totals also were on the rise with more than $30 billion in new auto loans originated in October 2011. That total is nearly equally split between auto finance ($15.9 billion) and auto bank ($15.7 billion).

Consumer finance 60+ days past due rates declined by 23 percent, and consumer finance loan originations (January-October 2011) were up by 5 percent — the first increase in three years, according to Equifax. The bank credit card lending sector saw the greatest improvement year over year, where 60-plus days past due delinquencies declined by 29 percent.

As delinquency rates continue to improve, bank credit card issuers have loosened lending standards, according to Equifax. From January-October 2011, there was a 48 percent increase in new bank credit cards issued to subprime borrowers.

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