CUNA Dec. estimates capture historic CU membership growth

February 5, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (2/6/15)--Credit union memberships in 2014, the year in which the credit union movement surpassed the 100 million memberships milestone, rose at the fastest pace in more than two decades, according to CUNA's monthly credit union estimates.

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Over the course of the 12-month period, memberships climbed by 3.6%, the highest rate since the 3.7% posted in 1994.

"Credit unions truly had a banner year, as 2014 marked a time that credit unions experienced exceptional growth, something that hasn't been seen in two decades," said Jim Nussle, CUNA president/CEO. "I'm proud of the credit union movement, its growing membership--from 100 million in August to 102 million to close out the year--and the fact that more Americans are choosing credit unions as their best financial partner."

Loan portfolios also posted a solid calendar year in 2014.

Credit union loans outstanding rose by 10.2% during the 12-month period, the fastest jump since 2005 when loans expanded by 10.7%.

Roughly 16.5 million new vehicles were sold in 2014, a 5.8% increase over 2013's number, according to numbers from AutoData, and it appears many purchases were financed through credit unions.

"Credit unions' new and used auto loan portfolios expanded 20.7% and 12.1% respectively in 2014, surpassing the 12.6% and 10.4% growth rates in 2013," said Perc Pineda, CUNA senior economist.

Fixed-mortgage, adjustable-mortgage and home-equity loans posted gains of 6.7%, 14.1% and 7.2% respectively for the year, while other loans (13.7%), unsecured-personal loans (10.5%) and credit card loans (7%) also posted healthy gains.

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In December alone, both memberships and loan portfolios recorded upswings in growth.

After a 0.3% increase in November, credit union memberships climbed by 0.46%, while loan portfolios climbed 0.71% in December, a bit faster than November's 0.61%.

"Although there's a big difference between those who simply join a credit union because they recognize the value proposition and those who join and actually use credit union services, the data seems to suggest that Americans are both joining and tapping the services of credit unions: Strong loan portfolio growth provides important clues," Pineda said.

Credit unions also continue to maintain a consistent asset quality, according to Pineda. The loan delinquency rate in December came in at 0.82%.

"Against the backdrop of better economic conditions--positive output growth, rising personal income, falling unemployment and increasing consumer confidence--competitive rates will ensure more lending at credit unions in 2015," Pineda said. "CUNA's baseline forecast calls for loan portfolios to jump 11% this year, eclipsing 2014 results."

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