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Student, Auto Loans Lead Borrowing Growth

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Borrowing among consumers rose in February, according to a new release by the Federal Reserve. In February, Americans borrowed a total of $18.2 billion, a gain of $12.7 billion from January.

Total borrowing in the country rose to a seasonally adjusted $2.8 trillion. The report stated that borrowing for the month set a new record from the $2.78 trillion in January.

The biggest gains in consumer borrowing were in student and auto loans. Combined, the two categories increased by $17.6 billion, the Federal Reserve’s report from April 5 revealed. Borrowing levels for these two loan types in January were $11.1 billion.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, student loan debt reached $966 billion, an increase of $10 billion from the third quarter. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said student loan debt is the main source of borrowing and has been since the end of the recession in June 2009.

According to the report, consumer spending recorded the largest increase in five months. A 0.7 percent increase was recorded in February while the gain in consumer spending was attributed to the 1.1 percent growth in income.

Consumer debt surrounding credit cards slightly increased in February to $533 million, after a gain of $1.7 billion from the previous month.

Americans receiving a paycheck from Social Security saw a tax increase that resulted in a $1,000 paycheck reduction for individuals earning $50,000.

However, continued improvements regarding national employment levels has contributed to a lack of effect on spending. Although the smallest number of jobs were added in March compared to the last nine month, unemployment levels remain low and Americans are continuing to find jobs.

The Federal Reserve publishes quarterly and year reports on consumer spending and debt on credit cards, personal, student and auto loans. Results regarding mortgages and other housing market-related numbers are not included.

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