WASHINGTON — The American Bankers Association (ABA)’s chief economist said this month he is optimistic that the economy will continue its upward trend. Driving his positive outlook are rising consumer confidence and falling delinquency rates.

In the third quarter 2014, delinquencies for seven out of the 11 credit categories monitored by the ABA showed declines. Its composite ratio, which tracks delinquencies (30 days or more) in eight closed-end installment loan categories, fell 6 basis points to 1.51% of all accounts — a record low that is well under the 15-year average of 2.30%

“Consumers are on surer financial footing, which bodes well for future delinquency rates,” the ABA’s Chief Economist James Chessen said. “While people are clearly ready to spend again as economic activity picks up, the overwhelming majority of consumers continue to keep debt at manageable levels.”

He added that strong economic growth has boosted job creation and supported income growth, making it easier for consumers to meet their financial obligations. Lower gas prices, he noted, are also helping to free up resources for everything from new purchases to debt repayment.

The association noted that the delinquency rate for auto loans originated through the direct-to-consumer channel remained flat from a year ago, while the delinquency rate for auto loans originated through auto dealers fell from 1.55% in the year-ago quarter to 1.51%.

“Consumers are smiling every time they fill up their tanks,” Chessen said. “ Every one-cent decline in pump prices puts about $1 billion back into consumers’ pockets, which means their paychecks are going much further. The signs are pointing in the right direction, but consumers hold all the cards when it comes to continuing to prudently manage their finances.”