As the economy and job market continue to improve, more people are taking out personal loans — both secured and unsecured, according to TransUnion’s first-ever personal loan forecast released Wednesday.
Since the third quarter of 2013, the number of consumers with personal loans has grown 18% from 23.07 million to 27.34 million as of the third quarter of 2015. These consumers have total outstanding balances of $82.52 billion in unsecured loans and $165.46 billion in secured loans, the Chicago financial data provider and credit bureau says.
“During and immediately following the Great Recession, consumer demand for both secured and unsecured personal loans grew,” Jason Laky, TransUnion’s senior vice president and consumer lending business leader, said in a press release. “As new, well-funded online lenders and fintech startups entered the market, personal loans had a broader appeal for consumers across all risk tiers.”
After peaking in the third quarter of 2009 at $19,209, the average secured consumer loan balance continued to drop steadily until the third quarter of 2014. At that time, a steady rise in loan balances began, which TransUnion expects will continue in 2016.
“When the economy is stronger and consumers have more disposable income, consumers are more likely to purchase larger items, such as boats or motorcycles, using secured loans,” Laky said.
Average unsecured loan balances will also continue to grow throughout 2016, but the growth will occur at a slower rate than previously observed, TransUnion says.
From year-end 2014 to year-end 2015, the average unsecured loan balance is expected to have grown 7.1%, from $6,757 to $7,235, the credit bureau said. That growth is expected to slow to 5%, from $7,235 at year-end 2015 to $7,599 at the end of 2016.
“As more consumers with prime or better credit scores use unsecured loans to finance their purchases, average balances have grown each quarter,” Laky said.
Consumers are using unsecured loans to refinance costly credit card debt, pay for education, and make major purchases.
Quizzle.com’s chief executive Todd Albery told Bankrate that there are other reasons for the spike in consumer’s taking out personal loans, like the rise of peer-to-peer and marketplace lenders.
“The industry has been legitimized by the entrance of several new lenders and immense investor backing,” Albery said. “The speed of getting a loan is faster, easier, and often less onerous then other financial vehicles.”
Such loans have also filled the gap left by the decline of the home equity loan market, and many consumers are taking out multiple personal loans, he added.