Record growth in members for Michigan credit unions

Michigan credit unions recruited almost 100,000 extra members in the third quarter of last year, bringing the total number of account holders to over 4.73 million. Consumer and small business...

Michigan credit unions recruited almost 100,000 extra members in the third quarter of last year, bringing the total number of account holders to over 4.73 million.

Consumer and small business borrowing also rose by record-high rates in almost all categories from new/used auto loans to credit cards while small business loans grew by over 17 percent from the same time last year. In total 97,175 new members joined credit unions in the state.

“Consumers and small businesses in Michigan continue to discover the great service and tremendous value at credit unions in record numbers,” said Dave Adams, chief executive of Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates. “We haven’t seen growth numbers like these in decades.”

According to analysts at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the state’s 2.5 percent 12-month growth in memberships is the fastest annual increase recorded since 1998, this is despite the state’s population remaining stagnant over the last few years.

When it comes to lending, Michigan credit unions saw the largest increases in member business loans with a 17.3 percent year-over-year increase.

In the past ten years, and even through the financial crisis in 2008, credit unions have continued to lend to small businesses. Business loans have soared from $192.7m in 2004 to $587m in 2009 to $1.4 billion at the end of the third quarter of 2014.

The steady increase in new members could correlate with the steep rise in new and used auto loans, which are up 12.3 percent and 14.8 percent from the same time last year, respectively. The popular GM Credit Union Member Discount could account for a segment of the solid auto lending increases. The program helped General Motors grow its national market share when more than 160,000 credit union members used the discount to buy a new car or truck in 2014. CU Solutions Group, a subsidiary of the Michigan Credit Union League, manages this national program, encouraging thousands of credit unions across the country to promote GM product discounts to their 100 million members.

CUNA analysts said an upturn in the national economy seen through strong personal consumption, federal government spending, softer energy prices and a decline in the Michigan jobless rate by 1.5 percentage points are all helping to fuel the credit union loan growth nationally. In Michigan, likewise, as the economy improves and households gain confidence, more and more credit union members are making home improvements, refinancing loans to lower rates and buying big ticket items such as cars, appliances and furniture, often financed by the very low loan rates offered at credit unions.

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