Roughly 68% of all credit union loan growth during the past year was attributable to the 8.8% rise in consumer installment credit.
According to CUNA Mutual Group’s August Credit Union Trends Report, 81% of that gain came from the $16.6 billion increase in vehicle loans.
However, credit cards, unsecured loans and student loans were also in positive territory, noted the report, which tracked data through June.
Consumer installment credit has now increased $33 billion (15.3%) from its low point in March 2011.
Meanwhile, member business loan portfolios continued to expand but at a slower rate, wrote Dave Colby, CUNA Mutual chief economist, in the report. Annual growth stood at 3.7% in June with the portfolio accounting for 7.6% of annual loan growth.
Still, there may be some trepidation about mortgage lending activity.
“We are somewhat concerned that fixed-rate first mortgages accounted for almost 42% of annual loan growth,” Colby said, adding the increase was 53% on a year-to-date basis.
“This may be a timing issue as members rushed to close loans and take advantage of low interest rates,” Colby explained. “Some of these loans may already be sold. We will wait for the mid-year NCUA data and quarterly revisions before commenting in detail.”
Looking ahead, Colby said based on his 36 years of experience, which includes five full economic cycles, forecasting credit union trends, consumer finance and the economy, he sees the slow recovery continuing through at least 2015, barring any shocks.
“Last year, the elections, the fiscal cliff, the Eurozone and escalating tensions in the Middle East created a high level of uncertainty,” Colby said. “The fragile, consumer-led recovery continues, albeit at a very slow pace.”
Risk factors remain high and the recent 73% increase in the 10-year Treasury rate is a significant concern for the housing market recovery, business financing, consumer durable purchases and debt service for consumers and all levels of government, Colby offered.