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Keeping Track: household debt

More personal income used to pay bills, mortgage

As the holidays - and holiday shopping - approach, many consumers resort to credit cards to pay for gifts. The resulting debt can be daunting.

According to the Federal Reserve Board, which tracks debt burden as a percentage of personal income on a quarterly basis, US households pay somewhere between 11 and 14 percent of their disposable income (that is, all income after taxes) on required payments for mortgage and consumer debt.

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In the past few years, that percentage has been steadily rising. For the second quarter of 2001 (the latest figures available), 14.04 percent of household income went to such debt payments.


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