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Credit card debt rises 12% compared to pre-COVID

Though economic impact payments helped drive down debt, the relief was only temporary.

Published: December 6, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

(The Center Square) — Even with some pandemic-era payments that drove down consumer debt, Pennsylvanians are more in the red than before.

Data compiled by the Independent Fiscal Office show that an 11% drop in credit card debt in 2020 “has completely reversed.” Significant growth in credit card debt in 2022 and 2023 has left residents more in debt and then some.

“Balances are now 12.4% higher than pre-pandemic,” the IFO noted.

Though economic impact payments helped drive down debt, the relief was only temporary. A February update noted that the bottom 25% of Americans were particularly burdened, and the trend has continued since then.

Credit card debt has grown the most in recent years for Pennsylvanians, the IFO noted, followed by car loans, mortgages, and student loans. In the third quarter of 2023 auto debt grew by 3.5% from the prior year after growing by 6.2% in 2021.

“While Pennsylvania consumer credit card and auto loan debt continue to expand, larger components of consumer debt (mortgages and student loans) are more stable,” the IFO noted. Mortgages and student loan debt make up 75% of all consumer debt.

Pennsylvanians have seen debt loads grow slower than the countrywide average. In Q3 2023, Pennsylvania balances grew by 3% compared to 4.3% nationally. Unemployment too, is lower in Pennsylvania at 3.4% compared to the national average of 3.9%.

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