Total loans in the credit union industry rose 2.9% to $631.5 billion in the third quarter of this year, according to data compiled by the NCUA and released on Monday.
In addition, the industry’s total net worth ratio is at its highest level since 2008.
The latest data demonstrates loan growth for the 10th consecutive quarter, the agency said.
“The good news is we continue to see strong, positive trends in the industry. Credit unions are serving their members and investing in their communities by making the loans needed to purchase homes, buy cars and go to college,” NCUA Board Chairman Debbie Matz said in the announcement.
“That said, smaller credit unions still face challenges in growing loan volume, generating earnings and attracting members, so NCUA must continue to provide them with needed assistance, training and support,” Matz said.
New auto loans are up 4% from the second quarter and up 11.4% since the third quarter of 2012. Used auto loans are up 3.1% from the previous quarter and 9.7% since the third quarter of 2012.
First mortgage loans are up 3.3% from the second quarter and rose 7.7% since the end of the third quarter of last year.
“Membership in federally insured credit unions continued to grow strongly, reaching 95.9 million, a new record, in the third quarter of 2013. Membership grew by 726,911, or 0.8%. Credit unions have added more than 2 million members in the last four quarters,” the NCUA also said.
The net worth ratio of the entire industry stood at 10.65%, an increase of 15 basis points, at the end of the third quarter. The net worth ratio is now at its highest level since the end of 2008.
The new figures are based on the NCUA’s Call Report data for the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2013.
“The NCUA’s third-quarter call report data underscores credit unions' vital role in keeping our economy moving by continuing to offer their members highly competitive, low-cost loans, especially in the auto and mortgage markets, in spite of the tough low-interest rate climate,” said NAFCU President/CEO Dan Berger.
CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney, meanwhile, told Credit Union Times, "The health of the system continues to improve. With net worth up to its highest level since 2008, it’s another sign that the credit union system has successfully weathered the recession and as such has helped millions of Americans with their financial struggles.
“The loan growth numbers are numbers are positive on the whole. More people are joining credit unions and many more students are turning to credit unions to finance their college education.”
Matz warned credit unions of problems in the future due to high interest rates.
“As interest rates go up, credit unions could be caught between a rock and a hard place. They have been paring expenses and reducing loan loss reserves to maintain earnings,” she said.
“However, as they make new loans at lower interest rates than older loans coming off their books, they have been making longer-term investments to increase yield. If credit unions haven’t planned carefully, the value of those investments could decline when rates rise,” the NCUA chairman said.