Record-Setting Loan, Membership Growth for Virginia-Based Credit Unions in First Half of 2012

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National Credit Union Administration data says Virginia-based credit unions grant $21 billion in loans in first half of 2012; total memberships top 7.4 million.

We're pleased that so many [consumers] are finding member-owned, not-for-profit credit unions are the right fit thanks to credit unions' singular focus on the needs of the member.

A record number of consumers are benefitting from membership in Virginia's not-for-profit, member-owned credit unions, while consumer lending at the state's credit unions rebounded strongly in the first half of the year.

Loan balances at the state's 181 credit unions increased 2.1% (8.4% annualized) in the quarter ended June 30, 2012. The state’s credit unions granted a total of $21 billion in loans in the first six months of 2012 – a 29% increase compared to first-half 2011 results. This loan total represents the largest dollar amount of first-half loan originations in history – fueled by strong mortgage and auto loan originations.

Total membership at the commonwealth's credit unions swelled to a record 7.45 million as of June 30. Since the end of 2008 and the start of the financial crisis that rocked many of the nation's largest banks, Virginia-based credit unions have added 1.2 million members, including almost 180,000 in the first six months of 2012.

Those members are saving money -- an estimated $833 million for the year ended June 30 -- thanks to the better rates and fewer fees found at the nation's credit unions, according to research from the Credit Union National Association.

Total share draft/checking accounts grew by 314,361 during the first six months of the year. Although many households have more than one share draft/checking account, these accounts are still a key measure in identifying a consumer's primary financial institution. The uptick in new share draft/checking accounts is additional evidence that consumers are still flocking to credit unions.

"Consumers are empowered as never before as far as options for a primary financial institution," notes Virginia Credit Union League President Rick Pillow. "We're pleased that so many are finding member-owned, not-for-profit credit unions are the right fit thanks to credit unions' singular focus on the needs of the member."

Credit unions are also aiding small business with much-needed credit. Virginia's credit unions held $876 million in outstanding member business loans as of June 30, and have extended $120 million in new member business loans during the first half of 2012. Member business loans are loans made for business purposes, such as purchasing equipment for a landscaping business.

Credit unions nationwide are urging Congress to increase credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25% so that more loans can be made to small businesses, considered a staple in the economy. The Credit Union National Association estimates that increasing credit unions' MBL cap would inject $13 billion in business loans into the economy, and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, all at no cost to taxpayers.

Virginia's credit unions are also reaching out to members recovering from the recession and coping with the slow recovery. In the first six months of 2012, the commonwealth's credit unions modified 2,636 mortgage loans with a total value of $725 million.

Although a long-time staple of credit union lending, small loans for emergency purposes have taken on new importance in the current economy. A recent survey by the Virginia Credit Union League found that responding credit unions originated 9,363 small loans of $3,000 or less to aid members facing an emergency need, including auto repairs and utility bills. In total, these credit unions originated $11.4 million in small loans in the first six months of 2012.

Credit unions also report that members at all income levels and various levels of creditworthiness are turning to small loans to meet their households' pressing financial needs.

Learn more about Virginia's 181 credit unions by visiting the website of the Virginia Credit Union League, the state trade association that promotes and protects Virginia's credit union system, while offering products and services that help credit unions best serve their members – http://www.vacul.org.

To find a credit union you may be eligible to join, please visit http://www.aSmarterChoice.org for a searchable database of the nation's credit unions and their membership options.

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