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More Americans keeping up with their car loan

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Posted: 2 pm ET

Some good economic news today: It looks like more people are staying current on their car loan payments. A new TransUnion report shows the number of car loan borrowers more than 60 days late on their payments fell 18.52 percent compared to the same time last year.

Interestingly enough, the lowest delinquency rate is in Alaska, where a mere .33 percent of borrowers are behind. I'm going to take a wild stab at the reasons behind this: One, waiting for the bus in Alaska probably is less pleasant and/or more deadly in Alaska than in other places, and the oil dividend each and every Alaskan gets annually ($1,305 in 2009) probably helps them keep up with expenses in general. If there are any Alaskan readers out there, I'd love your perspective on that. Why do you think Alaskans are more likely to stay current than other Americans?

Overall, this report is good news for the economy and seems to bode well for consumer spending going forward. After all, a car is less strictly necessary for most people than say, a house or food, so an increase in the ability of families to keep up with their auto payments suggests a greater degree of financial security than we've gotten used to seeing in the last few years.

Also, the report showed a 5.4 percent year-over-year increase in the number of car loan originations. That means more people are willing to take the plunge into car ownership, also a good sign.

Where does your car payment fit on your priority list? What do you prioritize ahead and behind keeping up with your car payment every month?

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