WASHINGTON Nov 7 U.S. consumer credit expanded
at a solid pace in September in a hopeful sign for household
spending, although Americans appeared to use their credit cards
more sparingly, Federal Reserve data showed on Wednesday.
Consumer credit grew $11.36 billion in September.
Credit has been expanding almost continuously since mid-2010
as the country recovered from the 2007-09 recession, and the
recent expansion could boost economic growth by helping
consumers spend more on cars and education.
Consumer spending has perked up in recent months, helping
offset weakness in investment as businesses worry about a
possible recession next year if fiscal policy sharply tightens.
So far this year, overall consumer credit has expanded in
eight of nine months.
Consumer credit growth in September was just above the
median forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts, although it was
lower than the $18.39 billion in growth registered the prior
month, according to revised figures.
Nonrevolving credit, which includes student and auto loans,
rose $14.27 billion in September. Student loans made by the
government rose 27.9 percent in the 12 months through September,
slightly less than the 12-month growth posted through August.
The cooler growth in overall consumer credit reflected a
contraction in revolving credit, which mostly measures
credit-card use. That category dropped $2.90 billion in
Growth in revolving credit has been choppier than overall
consumer lending. The decline in September marked the third drop
in four months for revolving credit.
Credit data can be tricky to interpret because cutting back
on debt is not always a sign of pessimism. People might be
relying less on credit card debt to buy things because they are
earning more money.
While the U.S. labor market remains hobbled by a 7.9 percent
un employment rate and stagnant wages, the share of working-age
Americans who have a job rose to a three-year high in October at