The number of households in the United States that hold debt has declined during the past decade. But of those who are in debt, the debt is higher, according to new U.S. Census Bureau figures.
In 2000, 74 percent of American households were in debt, compared with 69 percent at the end of 2011.
But the median amount of debt rose from $50,971 to $70,000 during the 11-year period.
The amount of debt varied greatly by age group, with the debt for people between ages 35 and 44 being substantially higher – $108,000. For those age 45 to 54, median debt rose to $86,500.
But the largest percentage increases in debt came in the 55 to 64 age group that had an increase of 64 percent over the 11-year span to a median debt of $70,000. Those over age 65 saw their debt double to $26,000. Those 65-and-over were the most likely to hold debt against their homes.
Young adults decreased their debt substantially more than their elders, perhaps because fewer of them owned homes. or automobiles, according to Pew Research. Adults younger than 35 saw their debt fall 29 percent from 2007 to 2010, and fewer young adults had any kind of debt than in three decades, 78 percent.
The composition of debt also changed considerably, according on the Census Bureau figures.
Americans who had credit card debt declined from 51 percent to 39 percent, but those holding educational or medical loans increased from 11 percent to 19 percent.
Net worth also changed dramatically during the time period as housing values escalated and then dropped.
Median net worth rose from $81,821 in 2000 to $106,585 in 2005, and then fell to $68,828 in 2011.