ATLANTA, Dec. 10, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- While Americans overall continue to remain cautious in taking on more debt, there are signs of growth in pockets of the country where the economy is performing strongly. In six of the 25 largest metro areas, consumer debt – including credit cards, mortgage, auto financing, home equity loans and student loans – increased over the last 12 months, according to new National Credit Trends Report data from Equifax (NYSE:EFX).
Dallas, Pittsburgh, Houston, Portland, Boston, and Denver all posted increases in consumer debt in the last year. At this time last year, only two markets, Houston and Pittsburgh, showed gains.
"For the most part, the metropolitan areas where consumer debt is increasing are places that did not experience an extreme housing boom and subsequent bust," said Trey Loughran, president of Equifax Personal Solutions. "In these six markets, consumers are generally growing more confident. For example, in Houston, the city with the largest growth of consumer debt, the economy has stayed relatively strong due to the energy sector."In Houston, consumer debt increased 4.35 percent over the past 12 months. The no. 2 market was Pittsburgh (up 2.44 percent), followed by Dallas (up 2.20 percent). Across the country, consumer debt remained roughly flat. It was $11.01 trillion at the end of the third quarter this year, a slight increase of just 0.32 percent from one year ago. The rate of debt reduction is slowing, however, as consumer debt fell 2.28 percent from the end of third quarter 2011 to the end of third quarter 2012. "Americans are feeling more confident and shedding their debt more slowly," Loughran said. "Additionally, following the recession, there is pent-up demand, particularly in the auto sector. People have been driving their cars for ten or 15 years and are ready for a new one."