We Are Living in Boom Times for Debt Collectors


I don’t have any deep comments to make on this, but I wanted to share a couple of charts from the Fed’s latest report on household debt. First up, here’s a chart showing the number of loans that are severely delinquent:

One of these lines is not like the others. In general, delinquencies rose throughout the recession, and then began dropping as the economy began to improve around 2010-11. But not student loans. Delinquencies on student loans have been rising steadily for a decade, and when the economy began its recovery, they just went right on rising. Welcome to life as a college graduate.

The next chart shows the number and size of loans that have been turned over to third-party collectors:

The number of consumers who are being hounded by collectors rose during the recession, and then kept on rising. It’s flattened out in the past couple of years, but it hasn’t started decreasing yet. Ditto for the average collection, which has just gone up and up and up.

Multiply the two together and here’s what you get. In 2003, the per capita amount of debt under collection was about $110 adjusted for inflation. In 2013 it was about $210. In ten years, this number has nearly doubled. Welcome to life outside the upper middle class.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate