John Rhea, President/CEO
Robins Federal Credit Union
Report: Georgians Stabilize Savings,
Return to Spending
Credit unions show strongest first quarter loan growth
in over a decade
- Total savings account balances increased 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013
- Credit union membership increased 2.3 percent during past 12 months
- New vehicle loans at Georgia credit unions increased 15.9 percent in past year
ATLANTA (May 23, 2013) – Savings account balances at credit unions statewide are leveling off, and Georgians are spending more of their net income as they feel less of a need to squirrel away money for a rainy day, a new report from Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) suggests.
The latest "Paying Attention" report revealed Georgians increased their savings account balances 4.2 percent during the first quarter of 2013 – a number that can be largely attributed to a 2.3 percent membership increase at the state's credit unions over the past 12 months.
While Georgians worked during the first three months of 2013 to pay down the unsecured credit balances they accrued during the holiday shopping season, they also returned to spending. Between March 2012 and March 2013, total loans at Georgia credit unions increased 6.6 percent, new vehicle loans grew by 15.9 percent and used car loans grew 10.3 percent.
"For the first time in several years, Georgians do not feel the same level of pressure to save a significant percentage of their paychecks to rebuild their balance sheets," said Mike Mercer, president and CEO of GCUA. "This is a marked improvement from recent years and shows cautious optimism by Georgia's consumers."
For the quarterly report, GCUA compiled savings and lending data from March 2012 to March 2013 at 42 credit unions from across the state, representing 93 percent of credit union assets and 89 percent of members in Georgia.
Other conclusions in the latest "Paying Attention" report:
The report's findings reflect a steadily improving state economy. The Georgia Department of Labor recently reported the state unemployment rate declined to 8.4 percent in March, the lowest rate since 2008. Additionally, home prices in Atlanta grew 16.5 percent this February from February 2012 (according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices).
- Favorable loan interest rates, combined with strong pent-up demand for new autos and solid labor market improvements helped the state's credit unions report strong automobile lending in the first quarter.
- Total loans outstanding increased 1.7 percent during the first quarter – that's the strongest first quarter increase for Georgia credit unions in more than a decade.
- Total loans at Georgia credit unions increased 6.6 percent, and credit unions financed 6.8 percent more first mortgages in the past 12 months.
- Georgia credit union members continue to gravitate to short-term liquid accounts: Credit union checking account balances grew by 11.9 percent in the quarter while regular savings account balances grew by 7.5 percent. Money market balances grew by 2.6 percent in the quarter.
- Credit card balances declined by nearly 5.1 percent during the first quarter, an indication that Georgians are now paying cash for more items instead of accumulating credit card debt.
- Low mortgage interest rates helped keep home affordability high and Georgia credit unions reported first mortgage loan increases of 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2013.
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.