Debt delinquencies rise in Alberta, bucking national trend
TransUnion says ripple effect of oil price slump seeing more consumers struggling to make payments
Credit and loan delinquencies are starting to pile up in Alberta as consumers cope with the ripple effects of the collapse in the price of oil, a new report says.
The credit agency TransUnion released figures Wednesday showing that Alberta surpassed the Canadian average in delinquencies in the third quarter of this year.
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"That's the manifestation of the oil slump that trickled into consumers' disposable income," said Jason Wang, TransUnion's director of research and industry analysis.
Alberta's third quarter delinquency rate was 2.63 per cent — up more than three per cent compared to the same period last year.
"It doesn't look like there's a big difference, but you have to understand that historically Alberta has been better. Now Alberta has caught up and actually has exceeded the national average," Wang said.
Alberta bucks trend
The national picture is much brighter, Wang said.
"On a quarter-over-quarter basis, this is the only province that had a big increase," he said.
"Compare that with … the national level, consumers are getting better and better."
Nationally, the latest figures suggest Canadians are managing their debt quite well.
TransUnion says the average consumer debt-load among Canadians — excluding mortgages — is $21,247.
Albertans are carrying an average debt load of $27,599. In Calgary the average is $28,159 and in Edmonton the figure is $24,414.
The national delinquency rate — when a consumer is more than 90 days behind on a payment — is 2.6 per cent in the most recent quarter.
That's a five per cent improvement over the same time last year, Wang said.
"Generally speaking, I think, very stable performance, and partially that is due to the low rate environment," he said.
The report shows there was a three per cent year-over-year increase in credit card balances nationally.
"So again, I think because interest rates are low, consumers have a fairly high level of confidence when they spend."
Wang says his advice for Albertans is to remember to spend within their means.
"Now more than ever would be a good time to actually take a hard look at exactly how much you can afford to buy," he said.