U.S. consumer borrowing surged 10% in November, its largest gain in a decade, and a positive sign for the fragile economy. The increase was the 13th in 14 months and the biggest jump since creditors boosted lending after the September 11 attacks.
Outstanding consumer credit increased to $20.37 billion during the month, the Federal Reserve reported Monday.
Revolving credit, which mostly measures credit-card use, rose $5.60 billion, a third straight monthly increase. Revolving debt generally has declined over the past two years as consumers increasingly have paid down credit card balances and steered away from taking on fresh debt following the recession, economists say.
Non-revolving credit, which includes student and auto loans, rose a seasonally adjusted $14.78 billion in November.
Government lending to students may have been a significant factor in the increase, rising $6.4 billion. The student lending data is not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations.
Government loans to students rose 31.9% through the 12 months ending in November, outperforming any other kind of non-revolving loans tracked by the Fed, including those made by commercial banks.
However, there are some signs the surge in student lending registered since the last recession is tapering. Year-over-year increases in student lending peaked at 78% in September 2010 and have trended lower ever since.