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Debt in the US: Is the Government Setting a Bad Example for All of Us?

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Is the Government Setting a Bad Example for All of Us?Is the Government Setting a Bad Example for All of Us?
May 24
5:45 PM 2018

The numbers don't lie: the US national debt is over $21.15 trillion, and growing fast. This figure translates into a debt per citizen of $64,543, and a debt per taxpayer of $174,168. With US federal tax revenues at just $3.329 trillion, or $10,163 per citizen, the shortfall of $18 trillion is something to be concerned about. Consumer debt in America is an issue that has been gaining momentum in recent years. This type of debt spans the full spectrum, including personal loans, student loans, business loans, credit cards, mortgages and the like. The debt per capita is increasing at a rate of knots, and there are vast differences in debt burdens from state to state.

How does credit card debt measure up across the US?

  • In 1999, the average credit card debt in the US was around $2,370 per borrower.
  • Fast-forward to 2016, the average credit card debt is now $2,859 per borrower. States with the highest levels of credit card debt include Alaska at $4,110 per borrower, Hawaii at $3,650, New Mexico at $2,550, Illinois at $2,970, Washington at $3,240, Virginia at $3,570, Washington DC at $3,780, and New York at $3,520.

How does mortgage debt measure up across the US?

  • Mortgage debt in 1999 was hovering around $15,870 per borrower.
  • In 2016, the mortgage debt per borrower in the United States averaged around $30,602. States with the highest mortgage debt include California at $51,890, Hawaii at $52,380, Washington DC at $59,270, and Colorado at $47,060.

How does automobile loan debt measure up across the US?

  • In 1999, the average automobile debt in the US was $1,830 per borrower.
  • By 2016, the average automobile debt per borrower in the United States is $4,286. States with high levels of automobile debt include Texas at $6,370, North Dakota at $4,910, and New Hampshire at $5,020, Florida at $4,700, and Alaska at $5,070.

How does student loan debt measure up across the US?

  • In 1999, the average student loan debt per borrower in the United States was $530.
  • By 2016, the average student loan debt per borrower in the United States was $4,985. States with the highest student loan debt include Georgia at $6,340, Virginia at $5,230, Mississippi at $5,210, Colorado at $5,630, Minnesota at $5,980, Ohio at $5,780, New Hampshire at $5,580, and New York at $5,550.

What are the overall levels of debt like in the United States?

  • In 1999, the overall debt per borrower in the United States was $20,600.
  • By 2016, the overall debt per borrower in the United States was $42,732. States with the highest level of overall debt per borrower include California at $63,440, Washington at $55,870, Colorado at $60,560, Washington DC at $78,180, and Virginia at $59,110.

The overall debt burden per borrower in the United States is rapidly increasing. This is a natural process which is fuelled by inflationary expectations, and rising standards of living. However, rising debt levels also place tremendous pressure on individuals and families and should always be efficiently managed. Increased borrowing becomes relatively more expensive as interest rates continue to rise. For these and other reasons, it is important to keep a lid on rising debt.

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