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Student loans in the United States represent the second largest type of household debt after home mortgages and were not only impervious to the 2009 recession, but are steadily rising along with total US household debt. As of the third quarter of 2018, student debt outstanding expanded by 2.6 percent, reaching a peak of $1.44 trillion, which is higher than total US auto loans and credit card debt.
Such rapid debt growth is traced in part to the nature of the benefits of student loan the payments. US federal student loan benefits include fixed interest rates, income-driven repayment plans, and the possibility to postpone or temporarily reduce payments. Student loans can be postponed, temporarily suspended, or reduced as a result of certain life circumstances, such as returning to school, being unemployed, military service, or economic hardship. In addition, undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for subsidized loans.
Student loans help nearly two in every 10 American students get an education, the benefits of which cannot be quantified. The rapid growth of outstanding debt coupled with persistent difficulties paying it off, however, not only causes people to delay decisions about buying a house, getting married, and having children, but it also affects government budget sustainability, making this a concern for all Americans, debt carrying or not. Over 90 percent of all student debt is ensured by the US federal government, suggesting that the federal budget will suffer from the consequences of unemployment that contributes to default in addition to the large-scale student loan defaults.
The US Economy Data Brief provides a comprehensive and interactive overview of leading US economic and financial indicators, including but not limited to GDP, inflation and prices, economic activity, financial accounts, debt figures, the labor market, and so much more.