CUNA Mutual Group released its January 2018 report, illustrating the continuing growth of membership in credit unions, despite declining numbers of credit unions overall nationwide. Credit union memberships grew 417,000 in November, or 0.37 percent, which is much better than the 251,000 new members, or 0.23 percent, added in November 2016. Year-to-date credit unions added 4.252 million new members, faster than the 3.922 million members added during a similar period in 2016. During the last 12 months, credit unions memberships rose 4.6 percent, the fastest pace in more than 20 years.

Total credit union memberships reached 113.5 million in November, 4.584 million more than November 2016.
Rapid U.S. job growth and strong indirect auto loan demand are two major factors driving the surge in credit union memberships. The U.S. economy added 148,000 jobs in November and 2.052 million jobs during the last 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For 2018, expect another 1.9 million new jobs will be created and credit union membership growth to be at 3.5 percent, slightly below the 4.4 percent pace in 2017.

The report also shows that Auto loans remain credit unions’ “bread and butter” loan product with vehicle loan balance growth outpacing the growth in mortgage and business loans. During the last 12 months, vehicle loan balances increased $38.3 billion (12.7 percent growth rate), slightly better than the $38.2 billion increase for first mortgage loans (10.8 percent growth rate).

New-auto loan balances rose a robust 1.2 percent in November, slightly below the 1.4 percent pace set in November 2016, despite November being typically one of the slower months of the year for auto loan originations. Strong consumer fundamentals are driving auto loan growth: an improving labor market, low interest rates, rising wage growth, expanding driving-age population, improving construction activity, low gas prices and better household balance sheets.

Read the full report here.