Americans' borrowing jumps

February 18, 2014: 1:54 PM ET
household spending
Americans are rekindling their love affair with plastic.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

American borrowing surged last quarter, capping a year when debt levels reached highs not seen since before the recession.

Total household debt jumped by $241 billion from October through December, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Tuesday. That includes debt for mortgages and credit cards, as well as student and auto loans.

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"This quarter is the first time since before the Great Recession that household debt has increased over its year-ago levels suggesting that after a long period of deleveraging, households are borrowing again," said Wilbert van der Klaauw, senior vice president and economist at the New York Fed.

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The hike was primarily driven by a $152 billion jump in mortgage debt. Total household debt rose $180 billion, the first yearly increase since 2008.

Despite the increase, American borrowing stands at $11.52 trillion, about 9% below its peak reached in 2008.

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