November is typically a slower month for credit unions, but the CUNA Mutual Group trends report finds a steady month with many positives. Loan growth was positive for the month with every asset size category of credit unions showing higher loan growth, year over year. Driving the growth was auto loans, home equity lines of credit, and unsecured personal loans.
Membership rose by 376,000 for a total of 105 million credit union members. This has exceeded CUNA Mutual’s membership forecast with a month of reporting to go. The credit union membership growth rate is the fastest in 20 years.
Auto loans continue to shine as the auto industry is selling more cars. Auto loan balances have grown by $31.9 billion through 11 months of reporting. New auto loans grew by 1.1 percent in November which was a positive considering how slow the month usually is for car buying.
Overall loan balances in November are up 10.1 percent, year over year. Credit unions have seen 15 straight months of 10 percent or greater loan growth, year over year. Besides auto loans, first mortgage loans have seen a 10 percent growth rate for the first 11 months of 2015. This was a slight increase, year over year, despite the CFPB implementing the “Know Before You Owe” mortgage disclosure rules. The National Association of Realtors say the new rules have slowed down the pace of closings. Those times are expected to rise in December.
CUNA Mutual also found that low gas prices will affect consumer behavior in 2016 as it loosens budget constraints and frees-up cash for other purposes. Debt burdens as a share of income are the lowest they have been in 35 years. This combination should boost household spending and improve credit quality which should lead to more credit union loans.