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Debt Skyrockets: Americans Borrowed $20.4 Billion in November

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Consumer borrowing soared by $20.4 billion in November, the Federal Reserve reported Monday, marking the biggest gain since November 2001 when Americans asked for credit to the tune of $28 billion.

November's surge in borrowing was spurred by more loans to purchase vehicles and a greater willingness to use plastic instead of cash to pay for holiday gifts and other big ticket items. Some economists are concerned consumers leaned increasingly on their credit cards to get them through holiday spending.

The reliance on plastic is apparently linked to the fact Americans are seeing paltry growth in their paychecks, if any at all. After-tax incomes shrank by nearly 2 percent from July to September. As a result, Americans are borrowing more and able to hold onto less of their money: the savings rate fell to the lowest level since the recession began in late 2007.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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