Hopefully (in this case) YOU’RE in that category, too! The average Canadian debt: $26,000 – excluding mortgages….!
Canadians’ average non-mortgage debt grew 4.5 per cent to $25,597 in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, signalling that consumers aren’t necessarily clamping down on borrowing even as they rein in spending.
Total debt per consumer, including credit cards, car loans and lines of credit but excluding mortgages, was up from $24,497 in the same quarter of 2010, according to a quarterly analysis by TransUnion.
Total consumer debt rose in all provinces but increased the most in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, with debt rising by 7.8 per cent in both provinces, while British Columbians had the highest average consumer debt at $36,649.
“Our first quarter data shows a continued increase in the total debt per consumer, although the trend still remains modest compared to the double-digit, pre-recession levels,” said Thomas Higgins, TransUnion’s vice-president of analytics.
Average credit card debt — which is often the most expensive because of high interest rates — fell four per cent to $3,539 from $3,688 in the fourth quarter, when Canadian spending ramped up for the holiday shopping period, and remained stabled compared with the first quarter of 2010.
But in a sign of troubled credit health, the national credit card delinquency rate — the ratio of credit card accounts that are 90 days or more overdue — grew 11 per cent from the first quarter of 2010.
The average borrower debt on auto loans was also up in the quarter — by 12.4 per cent to $16,189 from $14,402 in the first quarter of 2010. The delinquency rate on auto loans fell slightly to 0.1 per cent from 0.13 per cent a year ago.
Lines of credit are the most popular form of consumer debt, excluding mortgages, accounting for more than 41 per cent of outstanding debt at the end of the first quarter. Debt on lines of credit stood at an average $33,981, up 5.9 per cent from $31,867 in the first quarter of 2010.
There have been warnings, including from Canada’s top central banker, that consumers should take care to rein in their borrowing — which has pushed up individual debt levels since the 2008-09 recession and subsequent recovery.
Data released earlier this week showed that consumer spending slowed during the first quarter, to just 0.1 per cent growth. The slowdown in spending has lead some observers to believe consumers are focused on consolidating debt after borrowing heavily during the recession.
Major Canadian banks noted during their latest quarterly reports that they’ve seen a slow down in Canadian borrowing, though their figures include mortgages, a market that is dropping off as the housing market cools.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Tuesday he’s not concerned about a slowdown in consumer spending, as it suggests Canadians are heeding official warnings about spending beyond one’s means.
However, the weakness in consumer spending also reflects the fact that higher energy and particularly gasoline prices are taking a bigger bite out of household budgets, leaving less for other forms of expenditures. That, combined with high levels of indebtedness are expected to weigh down purchases going forward.
The analysis is based on anonymous credit files of all credit-active Canadians.
Are you in the “under average” category? What’s your secret?