Increase in US consumer borrowing

US shoppers
Image caption Consumer confidence has been rising as the jobless rate has fallen

US consumer borrowing in November saw its sharpest rise in more than a decade, the Federal Reserve has said.

The jump - by $20.4bn (£13.2bn) - was the largest monthly gain since November 2001.

The Fed's category that measures credit-card debt rose by $5.6bn, the most since March 2008.

The data suggests US consumers are borrowing again and adds to a string of good economic news, including six months of sustained job growth.

Last week, the Labor Department said the US economy created 200,000 jobs in December.

The unemployment rate dropped to 8.5%, the lowest level in nearly three years.

Last month, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index said US consumer confidence had risen to an eight-month high in December.

Lower savings rate

Borrowing has increased in six of the past nine months, the data by the US central bank showed.

Since the downturn began in late 2007, US consumers started saving more while at the same time, credit also became much harder to come by for individuals and small businesses.

But that may now be changing with signs the US economy is improving.

The savings rate was 3.5% in November, the lowest since the last recession began.

The Fed's gauge that tracks car loans increased by $14.8bn in November, nearly matching July's gain, which was the biggest since February 2005.

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