US consumer borrowing growth slows in January

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers bumped up their borrowing in January at the slowest rate pace in nearly three years, as outstanding revolving debt — such as credit cards — slipped from December.

The Federal Reserve said Monday that borrowing rose $10.5 billion in January, an annual increase of just 3.58 percent. That marks the smallest annual percentage gain since February 2013. Total borrowing was $3.54 trillion.

Borrowing in the revolving category that covers credit cards slipped $1.1 billion, after a strong increase in December that corresponded with holiday shopping. Borrowing in the category that covers auto and student loans increased $11.6 billion last month.

Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, is expected to accelerate in early 2016.

Overall economic growth has been tepid even as hiring has been healthy.

The economy expanded at a sluggish annual rate of 1 percent in the October-December period, after improving at a 2 percent clip in the prior quarter. Economists expect growth to rebound in the first three months of this year. The private forecaster Macroeconomic Advisers has projected growth of 2 percent, while the Atlanta Fed anticipates growth of 2.2 percent.

In its monthly credit report, the Fed does not break down auto loans and student loans in the seasonally adjusted data. The report excludes borrowing that is backed by real estate such as mortgage loans and home equity loans.