Debt Statistics in America

Debt in America

  • As of 2019, the average personal debt in the U.S. is $29,800 excluding mortgages. (Northwestern Mutual)
  • 32% of Latino and 28% of Black respondents say they’re having problems paying rent or mortgages. (NPR)
  • 68 million Americans have debts in collection accounts. (Urban Wire)
  • Almost six in 10 women and men cite paying off some form of debt as a financial priority (59 percent and 56 percent, respectively). (Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies)
  • Among Americans who carry debt, a third (33%) of their monthly income goes toward paying it off – not counting mortgages (Northwestern Mutual)
  • 63% of American adults said they would use cash or a credit card to cover a $400 emergency expense. (Federal Reserve)
  • In 2019, 25% of adults skipped medical care, such as a visit to a doctor or dentist, because they were unable to afford the cost, and 25% incurred a major unexpected medical expense during the year. (Federal Reserve)

Effects of COVID-19

  • Fifty-two percent of women and 58 percent of men have experienced impacts to their own employment situation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. (Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies)
  • Even before the COVID-19 outbreak led to a spike in unemployment and declines in the stock market and broader economy, 33% of Americans were already within three missed paychecks of having to either borrow money or skip bills. (Northwestern Mutual)
  • 1 in 4 women workers who are employed or recently unemployed say their confidence in their ability to retire comfortably has declined amid the coronavirus pandemic (Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies)
  • 84% of U.S. adults aged 18+ expect the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn will have an impact on their ability to achieve long term financial security. Six in 10 (59%) say that impact will be moderate or high. (Northwestern Mutual)
  • “If you’ve lost your income due to the pandemic, you may have to put other financial priorities first, like keeping a roof over your head and food on the table. It’s OK to focus on that now and deal with debts later.” — Sara Rathner, NerdWallet

Credit Score

  • About 20% of Americans aged 20-29 don’t know their credit scores. (Fortunly)
  • Less than a fifth of Americans (18%) have a subprime credit score of 580-669 (Experian)
  • About 67% of Americans have a fair-to-good credit score. (WalletHub)
  • Credit scores tend to improve as people age – 56 year-olds typically have the best scores. (WalletHub)
  • From Q1 2019 – Q1 2020, reports of credit card fraud increased by 104% (Legal Reader)
  • A recent report showed that the most common complaint the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection received in regards to credit reports were that it contained incorrect information (Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection)

Mortgage Debt

  • Almost one-third of households (32%), owed money for missed rent or mortgage payments from previous months at the beginning of August 2020. (Apartment List)
  • There was $662 billion in newly originated mortgage debt in 2020 Q1, compared to $344 billion in 2019 Q1. (Center for Microeconomic Data)
  • As of October 2020, roughly 3.6 million homeowners remain in pandemic related forbearance plans. (CNBC)
  • Of the $14.1 trillion in total U.S. consumer debt outstanding in 2019, $9.6 trillion (almost 70%) was mortgage debt. (Experian)
  • Paying down debt is the No. 1 reason some Americans struggle to afford their first home, cited by 26% of home buyers. (Coldwell Banker)
  • “A buyer with large debt balances can still purchase a home if they demonstrate the capability to repay” – Christopher Aldridge, DRI Fund

Student Debt

  • The average student debt in 2020 is $37,172 (My Credit Summit)
  • 1 in 4 Gen Z (25%) and Millennials (24%) hold student debt compared to 16% of Gen Xers. (Northwestern Mutual)
  • In 2020, 19% of student loan borrowers owed more than $50,000 on their loans (My Credit Summit)
  • Student loan debt has grown by more than 113% from 2009 to 2019. (My Credit Summit)
  • Although the national student loan default rate in 2018 is 10.8%, African American borrowers, students who are parents, and low-income students have higher-than-average default rates, in some cases topping 50%. (Center for American Progress)
  • The cost of college is rising 8x faster than wages. (Forbes)

Credit Card Debt

  • Of the 42% Americans who report holding credit card debt, the average amount is $5,400. (Northwestern Mutual)
  • In 2020, 15% of families are spending more than they receive on a monthly basis. Of these families, 43% are turning to credit cards to finance their expenses. (Lexington Law)
  • In 2014 more than 93% of credit card lawsuits went unchallenged by debtors. (Huffington Post)
  • In 2019, the average credit card balance was $6,194. (Experian)
  • As of 2020, 18 – 22-year-olds carry the least amount of credit card debt and 43-47-year olds carry the highest amount of credit card debt. (Lexington Law)
  • Approximately 9.1% of all credit card balances in the United States were 90 days or more delinquent as of the first quarter of 2020. (The Ascent)

“Debt is bondage. You will never, ever, ever have financial freedom if you have debt.”

Suze Orman, personal finance expert