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WASHINGTON – The American Bankers Association is reporting that the number of past due credit card accounts hit an all-time high in the third quarter of 2003 even as delinquencies in other consumer loans fell. ABA chief economist James Chessen predicts that without strong job growth, credit card delinquencies would remain relatively high. “The job market has been flying against strong headwinds, lengthening the time between jobs and intensifying financial stress,” Chessen said. “The strong third quarter GDP may signal a shift of the winds and a more positive outlook for jobs and financial health.” Credit card delinquencies rose slightly to 4.09% of accounts (seasonally adjusted) in the third quarter of 2003 from 4.04% in the second quarter, the ABA said. Third quarter credit card delinquencies surpassed the previous record high of 4.07% reported in the fourth quarter of 2002. Based on total dollars outstanding, bank card delinquencies increased to 4.66% from 4.51% (not seasonally adjusted), which is below the record level of 5.45% set in 1996.

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