More people are 60 days behind on their car loans, Experian Automotive says More people are falling at least two months behind in making payments on their auto loan, a new report showed Tuesday. USA TODAY

More people are falling at least two months behind in making payments on their auto loan, a new report showed Tuesday.

As more borrowers have qualified for loans amid higher national employment rates, and with new-car sales booming as a result, the total amount of auto loan debt climbed to $987 million in the fourth quarter, up 11.5% from the same quarter in the previous year, reports Experian Automotive. The credit-reporting service says that the total is the highest  since it began keeping track in 2006.

Along with the rising auto loan tallies has come growth in serious delinquencies. The percentage of people who are at least 60 days behind on their payments rose to 0.77%, up from 0.72% in the same period in 2014. Experian says it’s still short of a record. Sixty-day delinquencies reached 0.94% in 2009.

And the rate of those who are 30 days behind on payments fell in last year’s fourth quarter to 2.57%, down from 2.62%

“While rates in the more severe delinquency category are up, it’s important to note that the increases are modest and relatively low from a historical perspective,” said Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive finance for Experian, in a statement.

“Also, given that we’ve seen an increase in loans to subprime and deep-subprime consumers, it’s natural to see a slight uptick. Although not yet a cause for concern, the industry should keep an eye on this metric to see how it trends in the quarters to come.”

Finance companies held the largest share of the $6.8 billion in loans at least two months delinquent, at 45%. Banks held the second-largest percentage of them.

The highest 60-day delinquency rates were in Louisiana and Mississippi. The lowest were in Alaska and South Dakota.

The big increase in auto finance debt is coming largely due to increased lending by finance companies and credit unions. It comes after a record year for auto sales.