Consumer debt up $16.2B in January

| Friday, March 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

WASHINGTON — Americans stepped up borrowing in January to buy cars and attend school, while staying cautious about using their credit cards.

The Federal Reserve says consumer borrowing rose $16.2 billion in January from December to a total of $2.8 trillion. That's the highest level on record.

A category that covers student loans and auto loans grew $16 billion after an $18.3 billion gain in December.

Consumers barely increased credit card debt in January, when higher Social Security taxes lowered take-home pay for most workers.

A measure of credit card debt rose only $106.1 million. That followed a $3.2 billion drop in December.

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