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Is increased credit card debt good for the economy?

Washington residents may be surprised to learn that, on average, credit card debt for American households is $15,611 for those households who have debt, while the Federal Reserve and other government sources indicate statistics show a balance of $7,283 for the average household's credit card indebtedness.

As of December of last year, the breakdown of the average household consumer debt profile went as follows:

-- Credit card debt: $15,611

-- Mortgage debt: $155,192

-- Outstanding student loans: $32,264

These figures contribute to the total amount owed by American consumers -- the staggering sum of $11.74 trillion. The total breakdown divides it thusly:

-- $882.6 billion of credit card debt-- $8.14 trillion owed on mortgages-- $1.13 trillion for student loans

No matter where you may fall on the debt spectrum, it is plain to see how easy it is for consumers to get in over their heads with debt, both secured and unsecured. While mortgages and student loans may still be in the lead, credit card debt is running a close third.

Some economists argue that credit card debt is a reliable indicator that consumer spending is up, which is good for the U.S. economy. More spending equals more workers earning disposable income, which cycles back to higher spending.

More pessimistic wonks worry that the increased credit card debt could show that families are living on credit to meet basic needs and barely surviving financially.

While it may be debatable as to whether credit card debt is good for the country's economy, if you are unable to make your monthly payments, it's obviously not good for you. When faced with overwhelming debt that has become impossible to pay off, often the only sensible choice is filing for consumer bankruptcy protection.

Source: NerdWallet.com, "American Household Credit Card Debt Statistics: 2014" accessed Feb. 13, 2015

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