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Credit unions see fastest growth in five years during first quarter

resized_NCUA_SEALThe National Credit Union Administration released figures on Thursday that showed first-quarter loan growth for federally insured credit unions rose at the fastest pace in five years and that membership had grown by more than 800,000.

“Not only do credit unions generally offer better rates and lower fees, they have powerful appeal in today’s environment where so many people are put off by big conglomerates and are turning instead to locally based, community-oriented businesses,” Credit Union National Association President and CEO Bill Cheney said. “Credit unions, as cooperatives owned by the people they serve, embody those traits, and consumers are flocking to them in huge numbers.”

The NCUA’s data also showed a decline in the number of delinquencies and charge-offs during the first quarter, saying the data reflects “continuing overall improvement in the credit union industry’s performance.”

Delinquencies fell to 1.02 percent at federally insured credit unions, while net charge-off ratios fell to 0.61 percent—compared to highs of 1.84 percent and 1.21 percent, respectively, in 2009.

Net income at federally insured credit unions totaled nearly $2.2 billion, a slight increase from the last quarter of 2012. The industry’s return-on-average-assets ratio fell by three basis points but remained stable at 83 basis points.

“As the economy and labor markets continue to improve, we fully expect credit union operating results overall to revert to the norm within the next year or so,” CUNA Vice President of Economics and Statistics Mike Schenk said. “However, that being said, we do believe that credit union bottom line results–net income as a percentage of average assets–will continue to reflect some of the tough headwinds in the economy.”

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