Despite having closed or merged 245 federally insured credit unions in 2011, the NCUA nonetheless has declared federally insured CUs ended 2011 sounder than they had been in 2010.
“Credit unions ended 2011 in a safer and stronger position than at the start of the year. During the fourth quarter and for the entire year, credit union savings and lending grew at healthy rates. Credit union membership also reached an historic high of 91.8 million on Dec. 31,” said NCUA Board Chairman Debbie Matz, praising the numbers.
“Demonstrating the industry’s resilience, 2011 saw annual net income jump 41.2% to $6.4 billion. As a result, net worth grew 6.9%, reaching $98.4 billion, and the net worth ratio climbed from 10.06% to 10.23%,” she said.
The NCUA reported that membership increased by 1.3 million in 2011, and by 398,000 in the fourth quarter alone. By contrast, CU membership dropped in the last two quarters of each 2010 and 2009.
In addition, total CU assets also continued to rise, reaching $961.8 billion on Dec. 31, an increase of $10.6 billion for the quarter and $47.4 billion for the year, the regulator reported.
Return on assets also moved higher in 2011, moving up 18 basis points from the year-end 2010 and 2 basis points from the prior quarter to stand at 68 basis points, the regulator said.
Possibly among the best news was that lending also showed more signs of recovering, rising in each of the last three quarters of the year, the NCUA said. The regulator reported that total loans by year-end 2011 reached $571.5 billion, up 1.2% over 2010.
Further, there were signs that momentum was building as the year ended. The NCUA reported that more than 75% of the loan growth occurred during the fourth quarter.
First home mortgages climbed $3.3 billion in the last quarter, unsecured credit cards by , $1.5 billion and used car loans by $1 billion. Business lending also rose to $39.1 billion on Dec. 31, a 1.7% increase for the quarter and 5.2% for the year.
Demand for non-federally guaranteed student loans grew by 10.1% during the last quarter. Finally, demand for credit union short-term small loans—a consumer-friendly alternative to payday loans—surged 40.3% in the fourth quarter, the agency said.