U.S. consumer-loan delinquencies rose in the first quarter as high gas prices and unemployment stretched the budgets of consumers, the American Bankers Association said.
Overall delinquencies across eight loan categories rose to 2.71 percent of all accounts in the three months ending March 31 from 2.68 percent in the prior quarter, the ABA said today in its Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin. Overdue payments on credit cards rose by 12 basis points, to 3.4 percent, after delinquencies dropped last quarter to the lowest level in almost a decade.
“It’s hard to see dramatic improvements in delinquency rates when the economy still is barely moving forward,” James Chessen, the Washington-based group’s chief economist, said in a statement. “Until the economy shifts up a gear, employment improves and food and gas prices stabilize, some people will struggle to make ends meet.”
Employers created fewer jobs than forecast in May as the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent, from 9 percent in April and 8.8 percent in March, according to Labor Department figures.
More than two years after the 18-month recession ended in June 2009, economic growth is “continuing at a moderate pace, though somewhat more slowly” than anticipated, Federal Reserve policy makers led by Ben S. Bernanke, the central bank chairman, said on June 22 after a two-day meeting in Washington.
That “reflects, in part, factors that are likely to be temporary, including the damping effect of higher food and energy prices on consumer purchasing power and spending, as well as supply-chain disruptions associated with the tragic events in Japan,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in its statement.
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