The U.S. economy’s strong third quarter helped launch Georgia credit unions toward a fourth-straight year of double-digit loan growth.
Unemployment rates in the United States fell to a nearly 17-year low in the third quarter and consumer spending remained strong. That showed in the loan portfolios of Georgia credit unions.
By the end of September, lending increased by 10.7 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to data collected by the Credit Union National Association. That about matches the average 10.5 percent year-over-year loan growth for credit unions nationally.
Notably, members continued to increase their new automobile borrowing on a year-over-year basis in the third quarter. New car loans grew by 12.7 percent year-over-year. First mortgage loans and used auto loans were also popular, growing by 10.2 percent and 10.1 percent year-over-year, respectively. Second mortgage loans grew by 8.9 percent.
While the improving U.S. economy boosted lending, it also led fewer credit union members to fall behind on payments. That trend remained especially strong at Georgia credit unions, where delinquencies stood at 0.49 percent by the end of September. That’s lower than the national average rate of 0.78 percent.
Low delinquency rates combined with the rise in lending created positive earnings for Georgia credit unions. Net income as a percentage of their average assets stood at 0.8 percent annualized in the third quarter, up from 0.76 percent in the second quarter.
Georgia credit unions also remained well-equipped to absorb a loss in the third quarter. State-wide capital ratios stood at 12.2 percent, well above the 10.9 percent national average. Regulators consider credit unions “well capitalized” when they maintain a capital ratio of more than 7 percent.
“Georgia credit unions and their members continue to enjoy the benefits of an improving economy,” said Mike Mercer, president and CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, the state’s trade association for credit unions. “Members are buying vehicles and investing in homes. Clearly, credit unions are helping them finance the family purchases.”
Georgia credit unions welcomed 0.6 percent more members during the third quarter, bringing total membership to 2.1 million. That’s roughly 20 percent of the state’s population.
The chart below illustrates Georgia’s credit union rate comparisons.
|GA Credit Unions
|HELOC Loan – 80% LTV 0 pts
|-0.50 percentage points
|15 Yr. Fixed Mortgage
|-0.13 percentage points
|Credit Card Rewards
|-2.83 percentage points
|Credit Card Platinum
|-2.47 percentage points
|New Vehicle – Five-Year Loan
|-2.20 percentage points
|Used Vehicle – Four-Year Loan
|-2.55 percentage points
The information in the chart above comes from CUNA’s 3rd Quarter Membership Benefits Report, which collected data up until September 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.