Phyllis Cochran, President/CEO
Augusta VAH Federal Credit Union
Georgians Rebound from Recession,
Purchase New Vehicles
Sharp rise in car loans a sign of strengthening state economy
- New vehicle loans at Georgia credit unions increased 15.4 percent
- Used vehicle loans at Georgia credit unions jumped 7.9 percent
- First mortgage portfolios at Georgia credit unions grew 5.7 percent
ATLANTA (Feb. 22, 2013) – Supported by an improving job market and increased property values, Georgia experienced a surge in new vehicle purchases in 2012.
That’s according to the latest "Paying Attention" report by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA). The report found that new vehicle loans at the state's credit unions increased by 15.4 percent, and used car loans grew by 7.9 percent last year in Georgia.
Published quarterly, "Paying Attention" compiles savings and lending data from 38 credit unions from across the state, representing 92 percent of credit union assets and 86 percent of members in Georgia. The report’s findings coincide with strong U.S. auto sales last year – 2012 total car and light truck sales reached 14.4 million units – a 13 percent increase over 2011 results and the highest total since 2007.
"In Georgia, improving economic conditions helped to build consumer confidence," said Mike Mercer, president and CEO of GCUA. "This upturn in car sales is not just good news for car dealerships, but also proof of the state’s ongoing economic recovery."
Helping drive demand for new vehicles, many Georgians returned to work in 2012. The state's unemployment rate dipped to 8.6 percent at the end of the year, the lowest level in nearly four years and nearly one point lower than the 9.4 percent reading at the start of 2012.
"With an improved economic outlook, it made sense for Georgians to finance their vehicles through credit unions," Mercer said. "The average rate on a five-year auto loan at the state’s credit unions averages more than one percent lower than banks – another reason why Georgians continue to rely on credit unions for their lending needs."
Strong gains in the housing market also boosted Georgians' consumer confidence in 2012. Home prices rose 7.7 percent, and credit unions experienced a 5.73 percent increase in first mortgage portfolios.
Despite the increased spending, Georgians still continued to save. The report found:
"As economic conditions improve, credit union members still understand the need to bolster their savings accounts," Mercer said. "The recession is fresh on people’s minds, and Georgians want to maintain sound financial security."
- Regular savings account balances increased by 12 percent in one year
- Money market accounts grew 7.5 percent in the course of a year
- IRA/Keogh accounts grew 3.48 percent since Q3 2011
- Checking account balances increased 11.9 percent in a one year period
- Georgia credit union membership grew by 4.5 percent over the past year
Click here to view previous "Paying Attention" reports. More information about Georgia credit unions is available at www.georgiacreditunions.org or on facebook.com/creditYOUnion.
About Georgia Credit Union Affiliates
Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) provides services and support that help credit unions meet the financial services needs of the state’s more than 1.9 million credit union members. GCUA offers advocacy, educational, operational and marketing support for Georgia’s 139 credit unions, with combined total assets of more than $18 billion. More information can be found at www.georgiacreditunions.org.