Just the Facts A look into different household debts in the United States and how they grew so out of handscroll down arrow

Just the Facts

How Did We Get So Much Debt?

Household debt is now about $11.85 trillion, and it has more to do with stagnant wages than crazy spending. In past decades, the more the top 10 percent prospered, the more the bottom 90 percent borrowed.

We’re borrowing more for things income used to cover.

Graphic showing wages have been stagnant while living expenses have gone up
Infographic showing different household debts


Introduction:  +  David DeGraw: Freedom in a Time of Mental Slavery  +  $11.85 trillion: Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Top graphic:  +  Household income, 1980: DaveManuel.com  +  Household income, 2012: U.S. Census Bureau  +  Medical services: American Enterprise Institute & Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  +  Consumer price index: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis  +  New homes: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Bottom graphic:  +  Household and national debts: NerdWallet.com & GoBankingRates.com  +  Total debt, auto loans: Equifax  +  June 2010: The Wall Street Journal

At some point, people can’t keep up with their bills.

Graphic showing the trouble people have keeping up with their bills, including low savings rates and mortgage debts


Nonmortgage debts: Urban Institute
Top 10 states: 24/7 Wall St.
59 percent: CreditDonkey.com
Savings rates: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

And banks target people who can barely pay.

Graphics highlighting that banks target those who can barely pay


Left graphic: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Right graphic: CreditCards.com