Member business loans continued to be the front runner as total loans were down 1.5% year to date, according to CUNA Mutual Group's May Credit Union Trends Report.
At $579 billion, the total loan portfolio was down 0.4% over the past year, with declines reported in six of the past seven months, the report showed, which tracked data through March. The last time CUs experienced loan portfolio contraction at this level was mid-1982, according to CUNA Mutual Chief Economist Dave Colby.
"The growth trajectory for both real estate and vehicle loans moved from disappointing to very disturbing. Member demand for short-term credit and real estate loans just isn't there according to credit union leaders across the country," Colby noted. "At the same time, credit unions are wisely reluctant to hold low yielding fixed-rate mortgages when interest rates are forecast to rise."
Consumer caution will be the rule for at least the next six to nine months with balance reductions more likely than new credit extensions, Colby anticipated. Manufacturer subsidized financing will lead the way, an important distinction to note as Colby asked "while the economy
will recover, will CUs be in the right places with the right products to help finance the recovery."