ATLANTA (3/10/16)--Georgia credit union performance in 2015 was highlighted by accelerated lending as total loans increased by 3% in the fourth quarter over the previous quarter and 12% for the full year.
In 2014, the year-over-year increase in total loans for Georgia's credit unions was 11.1%.
"With a total loan growth of 12% for the year, it's clear we've come a long way since the 2009 recession," said Mike Mercer, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates president/CEO. "Consumers are clearly spending with more confidence; they're investing in big-ticket purchases like new homes and vehicles. Low interest rates have made home and car purchases especially attractive and with real estate prices now moving higher, home owners seem to be willing to put money back into their houses."
The fourth quarter's top loan performer in 2015 was second mortgages, which posted a quarterly gain of 14.3% and finished the year up 13.6%. Although it was evidence of an economic slowdown for the fourth quarter, it was a stark difference from 2014, when second mortgages declined by 1.5% overall.
Big gains in auto and mortgage loans over the past few years have been in large part due to pent-up demand from the recession being pushed forward. New-vehicle loans remained the top loan category in 2015 with a 12-month gain of 20.5% and a fourth-quarter increase of 1.7%.
In fact, all loan categories finished the year in positive territory with the trend toward big-ticket purchases continuing. Used-auto loans grew 1.3% for the quarter and 12% for the year. First mortgages were up 3% in the final quarter, with a yearly gain of 10.4%.
Business lending also finished 2015 strong with a 10.8% overall increase. This is a significant jump, as member business lending was down 3.4% the previous year. Other unsecured loans finished 2015 with a gain of 4.9%, although this category was down slightly from the 5.1% gain in 2014. Credit cards rounded out overall loan growth, with a 3.1% increase, which was up from a 2014 year-end increase of 1.8%.
Georgia credit union savings balances rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2015, growing by 1.7% in a quarter that historically sees a decline in savings balances due to the holiday effect--when members typically spend their savings and/or borrow money going into the holiday season.
Georgia consumers clearly recognize the benefits of credit union membership. Total memberships in the state's credit unions grew by 0.8% in the fourth quarter and 3.9% in the 12 months ended December 2015. Current Georgia memberships top the 2.1 million mark.