Consumers’ debt increasing, unevenly across populations: Gallup

March 7, 2016

WASHINGTON (3/7/16)--While nearly 40% of U.S. adults carry no consumer debt other than a mortgage, those who do have debt owe more than $25,000, according to a Gallup analysis.

Student loan debt is a tipping point for many borrowers. Roughly 20% report having student loan debt, with 35% of millennials and 25% of Gen Xers both holding such loans. Gen Xers have the largest average student loan balances with more than $30,000 outstanding.

For millennials, baby boomers and traditionalists, having both student loan debt and any other debt creates the largest total debt load.

Gen Xers--those in the prime child-rearing years--carry the largest balances in all four debt categories: credit cards, student loans, auto loans and other personal loans. They also have the most credit cards at 4.5 compared with the average of 3.4.

The 64% of millennials with any consumer debt have the second-highest total, with an average balance of more than $29,000. If that balance includes student loans, the total skyrockets to more than $40,000. On average, student loans are millennials' largest debt category and account for 39% of their consumer debt burden.