MADISON, Wis. – Nearly 160,000 members joined credit unions in January, giving the industry a moderate start for the year, according to the latest CUNA Mutual Group Credit Union Trends Report. To be exact, CUs saw a net increase of 158,000 for the month. The increase is still 46,000 members below the average over the past four years, but “simple annualization indicates growth potential of 1.9 million,” well above CUNA Mutual’s forecast, the report read, which was compiled by Dave Colby, chief economist. At 87.7 million, the year-over-year increase was 1.4 million members. Colby cautioned that these estimates and those back to July 2005 are subject to revisions based on final NCUA Call Report information and adjustments by CUNA Economics and Statistics. Year-end data shows 4,663 CUs (52% of all CUs) reported membership declines in 2005. Meanwhile, with the loss of 36 CUs, January was the first time the CU marketplace count had fallen below 9,000, according to the report. At the end of January, there were 8,978 CUs reflecting a net decline of 325 over the past year. “Our 2006 forecast will remain conservative until we see consistently stronger results,” Colby said. “We also realize a good share of recent membership gains are attributable to indirect lending.” Over the course of 2005, the number of indirect loans outstanding increased by about 845,000, CUNA Mutual said.

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