Canadian consumer debt hits new high
Consumer debt in Canada has hit an all-time high, according to a new report from credit-monitoring firm TransUnion.
The average debt hit $27,485 at the end of 2012, a 6% increase from 2011. Debt rose at its fastest pace since 2009, TransUnion said.
This marks the first time the average debt has been over $27,000.
"Increases in personal debt are not surprising during the final quarter of the year as consumers tend to spend more during the holiday season," said Thomas Higgins, TransUnion's vice-president of analytics and decision services. "The rise on a year-over-year basis should be more concerning as Canadians' debt loads increased by more than $1,500."
Every province saw its average consumer debt rise, except for British Columbia, where it went down 0.09%. Debt shot up by 11.20% in Alberta, 9.39% in Quebec and 9.04% in P.E.I.
Credit card debt in Canada rose 0.12% from last year, lines of credit rose 2.64%, instalment loan debt increased 6.71% and automobile debt rose 8.93%.
But there is an upside to this debt Canadians have racked up. For the most part, people are paying it off regularly and on time.
"While Canadian debt levels continue their upward track, delinquency levels remain low, and in some cases, are drifting even lower," Higgins said. "It's an especially positive sign to see lines of credit, which make up the majority of personal debt when excluding mortgages, experience yearly declines in delinquencies."