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MADISON, Wis. – As the job market and economy bounce back, credit unions might see 2004′s membership grow nearly double that of last year’s 1.1% rate, according to an updated economic forecast from CUNA. Economic growth will eventually allow the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates, forcing credit unions to contend with increased competition from other financial institutions, especially in the area of mortgage lending and related services, according CUNA’s 2003-2004 Credit Union Environmental Scan (E-Scan). In addition, credit unions are advised to adjust for mounting interest-rate risk due to rapid first mortgage portfolio growth. There are currently 84.5 million credit union members. “Moving forward, credit unions should review the array of mortgage product offerings available and focus on matching products to member needs,” said Vicki Joyal, vice president of research services for CUNA. “Look to encourage use of ARMs through member education and fee reduction, and consider offering non-standard mortgages to first-time homebuyers.” In the latest E-Scan, findings are also reported on regulatory relief, the Fair Credit and Reporting Act, identity theft, bankruptcy abuse reform and the Hispanic market. [email protected]

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