COSTA MESA, Calif. (5/1/14)--Several numbers released Wednesday provide a broad picture of the state of the U.S. economy.
The average debt held by consumers in the U.S. has risen 5% over the last four years, according to a recent credit trends study conducted by Experian.
Meanwhile, the average credit score as reported by VantageScore stood pat nationally at 665, the study found.
Experian's overarching study looked at debt trends within the 20 largest U.S. cities, finding that Detroit residents carried the lowest average debt at $23,604, while Dallas posted the highest at $28,240.
From four years ago, the average debt in Detroit has fallen by 7.1%, while Dallas has increased by 7.8%.
"There is a lot more behind the numbers that meets the eye," said Michele Raneri, Experian vice president of analytics. "Nineteen of the cities had increases in their debt amounts, which could actually be signaling a recovery pattern as credit lending is opening up and consumers are becoming more confident."
The news that consumers are more willing to take on debt could be well received by mortgage lenders, who have seen homeownership decline recently to levels not seen since the mid-1990s (MarketWatch April 29).
In the housing market, according to a U.S. Census release, despite improvements over the past two years, fewer homeowners remain than before the economic downturn.
The trend possibly could be fueled by lingering effects of the events of six years ago. In 2008, millions lost their homes to foreclosure, prompting the recession, which then led to massive job loss, bringing on a second round of foreclosures and, with it, less homeownership, MarketWatch reported.
Younger generations moving out of their parents homes and opting to rent instead of buy could also be contributing. The boom in apartment construction gives evidence of this.
Meanwhile, the economy overall has failed to gain traction this year, as gross domestic product, measuring goods and services produced across the U.S. economy, only rose at an adjusted rate of 0.1% in the first quarter.
The reading is the second weakest since the start of the recovery.
Declining exports, at 7.6%, in large part due to problems abroad with international economies, primarily drove the weak numbers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"Not a great start to the year," Sterne Agee Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza told the Wall Street Journal.