Consumer debt load hits eight-year high

REUTERS FILE

REUTERS FILE

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:30 PM ET

Consumer debt among Canadians has shot to an eight-year high, credit bureau TransUnion reports.

Average debt levels, not including mortgages, are the highest since the company began keeping track in 2004.

Debt increased $192 in the second quarter of this year to $26,221 per person.

In 2007, the average consumer debt nationwide was $19,702 - the lowest recorded.

The latest data shows British Columbia as having the highest average debt at $37,879, while Quebec has the lowest at $18,580.

Alberta is not far behind its western neighbour with an average $33,564 debt.

Saskatchewan is the only province not to record an increase in the second quarter, showing a debt average of $27,699.

"We are in a unique situation because while it is somewhat disconcerting to see average consumer total debt reach its highest level since we've been tracking this variable, Canadian consumers appear to be able to manage this debt as delinquency levels have dropped across all of the major credit vehicles," said Thomas Higgins, TransUnion's vice-president of analytics and decision services, in a statement Thursday.

Delinquencies across the board, such as credit cards, loans and auto loans, have dropped.

"It's quite possible that this is a trend that will continue as consumers take advantage of the low-interest environment," he said.

"However, if there are any sudden economic shifts, such as a significant rise in unemployment, then it's quite conceivable that delinquencies will rise with debt levels."


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