You’re late! Auto loan delinquencies rise

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The number of people late on their car payments has risen nationwide, due mostly to auto loan delinquencies in certain states.

So-called “serious” auto loan delinquencies (60 days or more late on payments) rose to 1.12% in the first quarter of this year, a 13.1% increase from the first quarter of 2015, according to TransUnion’s Q1 2016 Industry Insights Report. It is the first time the rate has gone above 1% in the first quarter since 2011. TransUnion analyzes delinquency data for the same time period year-over-year to track seasonal trends.

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The largest factor driving the rise in delinquencies nationwide was the oil slump in energy-sector states, says TransUnion. In particular, North Dakota saw a 67.3% increase in delinquencies from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016. West Virginia experienced a 26.1% increase in car loan delinquencies, followed by 21.4% in Texas and 18.8% in Oklahoma.

Although the rise in delinquency rates in certain states led to an increase nationwide, Ezra Becker, senior vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion’s financial services business unit, noted that: “Overall, levels of delinquency remain relatively low from a historical perspective.”

The delinquency rate for car loans is still lower than it was in the first quarter of 2010, when it reached 1.21% at the height of the recession.

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Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.