A record total of more than 7 million people in America are at least 90 days behind on their car payments as the country’s auto loan debt continues to climb, according to the New York Federal Reserve.
The New York Fed released the numbers on Tuesday, which included data until the end of 2018. The 7 million Americans with serious delinquencies ― when vehicle loan payments are at least 90 days late ― is more than 1 million higher than in 2010, when Americans were still recovering from the financial crisis of 2008.
“The substantial and growing number of distressed borrowers suggests that not all Americans have benefited from the strong labor market and warrants continued monitoring and analysis of this sector,” economists at the Fed said in an analysis of their consumer debt report.
Along with the number of serious delinquencies, the report says there had been a $584 billion increase in total auto loan debt, the highest such surge recorded by the Fed. The total auto loan debt is now $1.27 trillion.
About 6.5 percent of the total debt issued by auto finance companies was past due by the end of 2018. The amount of debt that flowed into serious delinquency level climbed from 1.5 percent in 2012 to 2.4 percent in 2018.
The economic analysis of the report showed that auto loans held by people younger than 30 saw a sharp rise in serious delinquencies from 2014 to 2016, while delinquencies for people older than 30 have slowly been climbing.
The report said the overall credit quality improved at the end of last year, but “with growth in auto loan participation, there are now more subprime auto loan borrowers than ever, and thus a larger group of borrowers at high risk of delinquency.”