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Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The number of credit cards in America hit an all-time high of 520 million in the third quarter of this year, per the New York Fed's household debt and credit report, released Tuesday.

Why it matters: There was a precipitous plunge of more than 100 million credit cards between 2008 and 2010, but we’ve now more than made up for that decline.

  • Buy now, pay later companies like Affirm aren't included in this tally — they're still too small to merit their own line in the report.
  • Household debt now totals more than $15 trillion, of which $800 billion is in credit cards, and another $1.4 trillion is in auto loans.

What they're saying: "Issuance to borrowers of all scores returned to, or even surpassed, pre-pandemic levels," wrote Fed researchers on the Liberty Street Economics blog.

  • "These issuances have real consequences for borrowers and borrowing. Borrowers with newly opened credit card accounts have typically seen an average balance increase of $645 in that month."

The bottom line: If you thought the pandemic was going to trigger a big reduction in Americans’ debts, turns out you were wrong. We seem to be gearing up for more consumer borrowing than ever.

Go deeper

College students have advice for Jerome Powell

Photo illustration: Megan Robinson. Photo: Federalreserve, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Speed up the taper, supercharge communication and release the digital coin white paper — this is advice to the Federal Reserve from a surprising source: college kids.

The backstory: For a few minutes each year, the students act as Fed officials and compete to pitch staffers the best direction for the nation’s economy.

Little-noticed spending bill provision could fix green card backlog

Expand chart
Re-created from CATO Institute; Chart: Axios Visuals

Immigrants caught in backlogs to receive green cards could become U.S. permanent residents years — even decades — faster if a little-noticed provision in President Biden's $1.75 trillion "human" infrastructure bill becomes law.

Driving the news: The provision would recover more than 400,000 family and employment-based green cards previously authorized by Congress but unused since 1992, according to data confirmed by a Senate aide.

A tale of two jobs reports

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Whatever you think about the economy, you’ll find something in this morning’s conflicting jobs report to reinforce your views: America's job market is white-hot and the labor market is anemic.

Between the lines: The conflict comes from the two separate surveys the government uses to compile the report.