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These days, millions of young adults are graduating college with tens of thousands of dollars or more in student loan debt, among other financial obligations, and those bills may be slowing the housing market’s recovery.

Now, consumers owe more on their student loan balances than they do on their credit cards for the first time ever, and that trend is only likely to mount, not get better. Consequently, the millions of young adults who owe thousands to lenders or the federal government on their student loans are having trouble affording home purchases, according to a report from Businessweek. Between the third quarter of 2001 and the third quarter of 2011, student loan debt increased of about 600 percent. Meanwhile, mortgage< debt increased far more modestly by about 100 percent. In addition, a recent study from the Federal Reserve found that just 9 percent of consumers between 29 and 34 got a first-time mortgage between 2009 and 2011, compared to 17 percent just 10 years earlier, the report said. This is due in large part to student loan debts averaging more than $25,000 these days, as well as an unemployment rate of about 9 percent for those between 25 and 34. People in that age group made up 27 percent of all home buyers last year, but it was the lowest portion in the last decade. In 2001, the same group accounted for 33 percent of all home buyers. [callout id="67543" image="true"] "Students coming out of college are burdened with more debt than traditionally they have been, and they are also coming into an economy that is under-performing previous recoveries," Rick Palacios, a senior research analyst at John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Irvine, California, told the news agency. Meanwhile, the number of first-time home buyers has fallen considerably since the recession began, and those between 25 and 34 still make up 52 percent of that group, but at the same time, U.S. Census Bureau data shows that close to 6 million Americans in that age group still lived with their parents in 2011, the report said. In addition to hefty student loan balances, many young adults are also now graduating from college with several thousand dollars in credit card debt spread across a handful of accounts, though those numbers are declining as a result of new consumer protections introduced in the last few years. Image: Joe Shlabotnik, via Flickr

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