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MADISON, Wis. – The latest membership and credit union consolidation numbers continued to seesaw through November 2005. According to CUNA Mutual Group’s Credit Union Trends Report, at the end of November, estimates showed 9,053 CUs reflecting a net decline of just 38 CUs for the month, 293 year-to-date and 328 over the past year. “Until we see significant trend changes, our forecast assumes annual market contraction will average 346 CUs through 2010,” said Dave Colby, CUNA Mutual chief economist, who compiled the report. “The downside risks (such as faster consolidation due to regulatory or tax law changes) clearly outweigh a more optimistic outlook.” Given the level of devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and 248 CUs below $10 million in assets in the FEMA disaster declaration zones, “we believe more rapid consolidation will occur,” Colby said. On the upside of the seesaw, membership had risen to an estimated 87.5 million by the end of November, according to the report. Although gains had slowed over the past few months, CUs had attracted nearly 1.5 million additional members by the end of November. Last year’s gains, while “difficult to accurately assess” were due in part to a net increase of nearly 739,000 indirect loans and significant field-of membership expansions including underserved communities, Colby said.

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