Georgia credit unions finished 2017 with strong loan growth aided by near cyclical highs in U.S. consumer confidence.
Lending at Georgia credit unions grew by 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter – eclipsing the third quarter’s 1.5 percent rate but landing short of the 3.2 percent rate in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to data collected by the Credit Union National Association.
Lending grew by 8.8 percent at Georgia credit unions for all of 2017, a bit behind the 10 percent growth credit unions experienced nationally.
Predictably, holiday spending pushed credit balances upward in Georgia, which contributed to that loan growth in the fourth quarter. In fact, 2017 holiday spending propelled credit card loan growth to 6.0 percent for the quarter, surpassing the 5.3 percent bump in the final quarter of 2016.
However, on a year-over-year basis, new automobile lending showed the most growth at Georgia credit unions, finishing up the year with a gain of 11.4 percent. Used car loans and first mortgages were also popular, growing by 7.8 percent and 7.5 percent on a year-over-year basis, respectively.
Second mortgages grew by 5.9 percent and credit cards by 3.8 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Georgia credit unions finished 2017 with 0.76 percent return on average assets, a bit higher than 2016’s 0.75 percent.
Georgia members continue to save money with their credit unions, too, with savings balances growing by 4.3 percent annually during 2017.
“Georgia credit union members are still making big purchases, including cars and homes,” said Mike Mercer, president and CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. “Even as the economy improves, we know not everyone feels the same level of optimism and security. Members know they can continue to rely on their credit union to afford life, regardless of their personal circumstances.”
Georgia credit union memberships grew 0.4 percent during the fourth quarter, with memberships totaling more than 2.1 million. That’s roughly 20 percent of the state’s population.
The graph below illustrates how Georgia’s credit union rates compare with banks.
The information in the chart above comes from CUNA’s 4th Quarter Membership Benefits Report, which collected data up until the end of December 2017.
Georgia credit unions – the state’s not-for-profit, member-owned alternative to banks – serve a broad cross-section of 2.1 million working-class consumers in the state. As not-for-profit institutions, credit unions return earnings to their members in the form of lower interest rates on loans, higher savings deposit yields, and fewer and lower fees compared to banks. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, more Georgia consumers are choosing credit unions as their preferred financial partners.