Federal debt contracts for first time since 2003

Federal government debt contracted in the first quarter, its first decline since 2003, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. (Tweet this)

Household net worth jumped $1.6 trillion to a record $84.9 trillion as home and investment values rose, according to the central bank's flow of funds report. The U.S. economy and consumer spending dragged through the first quarter, but the data suggest consumers may find themselves on more solid footing.

The Federal Reserve building.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Federal Reserve building.

Household real estate value increased by $411 billion to $21.1 trillion.

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Americans also eased up on borrowing in the period. Household borrowing decelerated to a 2.2 percent annual rate, its slowest pace since the fourth quarter of 2013.

Overall U.S. debt rose 2.8 percent, its smallest climb in four years.

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Reuters contributed to this report