A 1.4% decline in loans outstanding in 2010 and a modest 1.2% increase in 2011 at credit unions may be closely linked to how members feel about the economy and jobs.

“The employment sector is the center of economic growth and credit union loan demand as consumers defer their spending behavior during times of perceived job insecurity, falling home values and volatile stock markets,” wrote Brian Turner, director and chief strategist at Catalyst Strategic Solutions, a subsidiary of Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union in Plano, Texas, in his latest analysis.

The Department of Labor reported Friday that the nation’s unemployment rate increased to 8.2%. In May, employers added only 69,000 people to their payrolls, which was the smallest increase a year.

Turner said the nation’s underemployment rate, which combines those unemployed with those working part time but desire full-time work and those who have given up their search for lack of jobs, increased to 14.8%, or approximately 22.9 million people, Turner said.

“The Fed currently estimates consumer spending growth in 2012 to be only slightly higher than 2011, therefore the outlook for consumer loan growth for the remainder of this year and probably the first half of next year to be rather moderate,” Turner said.