Americans are doing a better job paying their debts on time. Consumer delinquency rates on personal loans, direct auto loans and home improvement loans fell during the second quarter, figures released Tuesday by the American Bankers Association indicate. Delinquencies, or payments that are late by 30 days or more, dropped in nine of the 11 categories the ABA tracks.
Another measure of delinquencies across eight types of loans, called the composite ratio, fell to a historic low as just 1.57 percent of accounts were delinquent during the April-June period. The measure was "well under the 15-year average of 2.32 percent," the ABA noted in the release. The ABA has been tracking the composite ratio since the 1970s.
"When you see delinquencies fall nearly across the board, and are at record low levels, it says consumers have done a really good job bringing their balances down, making sure they can repay their debts and being good stewards of their finances,” ABA chief economist James Chessen said.
The improving numbers reflect good financial maintenance on the part of consumers, but banks are playing a role too. Chessen noted creditors are "being more cautious about who they lend to."
“Both consumers and lenders have been more conservative in their approach to credit,” he added.
A slowly recovering economy is also helping to shrink delinquency rates, but barriers to further improvement may lie ahead.
“Incomes are not rising as fast as we’d all like. There are challenges,” he said. "That's why I’m very glad delinquency rates are so low, but with a still less-than-great economy, there’s still some danger rates will rise in the future.”