A new report from credit agency Equifax shows debt delinquencies continue to soar in Canada's oil-producing regions, but it also shows a troubling new trend: Canada's youngest debtors are increasingly having a hard time managing their debt.
The report, which looked at non-mortgage debt, found delinquencies spiked by 11.7 per cent among Canadians aged 18 to 25 in the second quarter of this year, compared to a year earlier. Among the 26 to 35 age group, delinquencies jumped by 9.7 per cent.
The report found that, overall, Canadians continue to take on debt faster than wages are growing, with non-mortgage debt up 3.4 per cent in the past year, to $21,878. Overall debt delinquencies jumped by 4.1 per cent.
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Yet it was seniors, not millennials, who took on the most debt in the past year. Debt among those aged 65-plus soared 8.2 per cent.
"While debt among seniors has increased, they are also the only age group that saw its delinquency rate decrease over the past 12 months," said Regina Malina, senior director of decision insights at Equifax.
"For the most part, older Canadians have always demonstrated an ability to handle their spending and what they owe. Young people, and really everyone, should be reminded to practice good budget and money management habits. Great tips can be found on the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's website."
Delinquency rates in Alberta and Saskatchewan climbed higher in the second quarter due to the fallout from the drop in the price of oil.
Equifax Canada said Thursday the delinquency rate for Alberta stood at 1.4 per cent, up 40.3 per cent compared with a year ago. The delinquency rate in Saskatchewan climbed to 1.2 per cent, a gain of 22.7 per cent.
Newfoundland, which has also been hit by the downturn in oil, was up 19.4 per cent at 1.3 per cent.
Delinquency rates "are still relatively low and that has to be kept in perspective, but we definitely are seeing the impact of the prolonged situation in those regions,'' Malina said.
"It looks like it is a fairly persistent situation so we'll probably see these increases for a while until the region will adjust to the new economic situation.''
The amount Canadians owe increased to $1.66 trillion in the second quarter, up 6.3 per cent compared with a year ago.
The credit monitoring agency said installment loans, auto loans and mortgage sectors had significant increases of 7.8 per cent, 7.6 per cent and 7.6 per cent year-over-year, respectively.
Excluding mortgages, consumers owed on average $21,878, up 3.4 per cent from a year ago.
-- With files from The Canadian Press
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