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Overall, California credit union loan portfolios grew by 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 6.3 percent increase for the year. In contrast, savings balances increased by 0.32 percent in the fourth quarter, and by 3.7 percent in the year.
The 6.3 percent full-year loan portfolio increase was the largest percentage increase California credit unions have experienced since 2006. Auto lending continued to drive overall loan growth results in 2013, reflected in a 22-percent full-year jump in new vehicle loans and a 13.9-percent increase in used auto loans. Personal unsecured loans grew by 11.8 percent in the year; first mortgages increased 6.9 percent while business loans grew by 5.4 percent and credit cards by 5.1 percent.
Total memberships in the state’s credit unions grew by 1.23 percent in 2013 – the strongest increase since 2007. In contrast, the Census Bureau reports the state population grew by 0.88 percent in 2013.
In Nevada, credit unions saw another noticeable uptick in savings, with a 0.5-percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2013, finishing the year with a 3.2 percent increase. Used auto, unsecured personal loans, and credit cards finished the year 2013 with increases of 13.6 percent, 5.4 percent, and 4.8 percent, respectively.
On the savings side, the state’s credit unions reported regular savings account balances grew by 9.0 percent at year-end 2013, while checking account balances grew by 0.9 percent and money market balances grew by 2.0 percent year over year.
“The jump in auto lending in California showed that the pent-up demand among consumers pulled them into dealer showrooms as well as credit union branches,” said California and Nevada Credit Union League's Vice President and Chief Economist Dwight Johnston. "The improved economic outlook also was demonstrated in the strong 2013 lending results in nearly every key loan category—from personal unsecured loans and first mortgages to business loans and credit card usage. Improvement in the California job market and rising home values resulted in greater confidence on the part of borrowers.”
“Deeper analysis of the lending picture in Nevada points to an increase in demand being largely driven by mid-level consumer purchases, mostly used auto, unsecured personal loans, and credit cards,” Johnston added. “These three categories provided strong enough growth to push the overall loan growth into positive territory in the fourth quarter. After lagging the recovery in the rest of the U.S., Nevada began what appears to be a sustainable rebound in jobs and construction in the second half of 2013.”