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Georgia credit unions post first-quarter slowdown

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Georgia credit unions saw their members follow typical first-quarter patterns – save more, borrow less – in Q1 2019, according to a report released Thursday by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.

The GCUA said the 99 credit union in the Peach State have combined total assets of more than $23 billion and serve 2.2 million members, or approximately 21% of the state's population.

In the first quarter, credit unions in Georgia saw their total lending grow 0.2%, down from 0.8% growth in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 2.6% growth in Q3 2018, per data from the Credit Union National Association.

Total savings at Georgia CUs grew 3.7% in Q1, a big bump from the -0.2% growth in Q4 2018 and 2% growth in the third quarter of 2018. Despite those quarter-over-quarter gains, that was still a decline from the first quarter of 2018, when Georgia credit unions saw their savings grow 4.1%.

Loan delinquency rates also stayed low, standing at 0.43% during the first quarter, while net income remained high at 102 basis points.

The GCUA noted that the government shutdown – at 34 days, the longest in history – did not have the negative impact that was expected by some economists.

“First-quarter trends usually reflect consumers using tax receipts and year-end bonuses to pay down loans or increase savings,” Mike Mercer, GCUA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “It is clear those trends were kept intact this year, despite the government shutdown. Whether or not the economy continues on this positive trajectory, it is clear Georgia credit union members feel confident in their financial institution's ability to help them afford life.”

Despite news Friday that economic growth slowed during the second quarter to an annual rate of 2.1%, CUNA’s analysis of noted that “increases in state and local government spending, along with accelerations in private inventory investment and in exports, combined to deliver the surprisingly solid results.”

CUNA said the national credit union numbers showed members “continued with typical patterns” after the shutdown ended. Savings growth was 4.5% in Q1, compared to 1.1% growth in Q4 2018 and 0.2% in Q3 2018.

Savings growth nationally also was higher year-over-year: it was 3.9% in the first quarter of 2018.

CU lending growth nationally was 0.6% growth in the first quarter of this year, compared to 1.9% in Q4 2018 and 2.6% in Q3 2018.

In June, members of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions – which serves CUs in Florida and Alabama – voted to approve a merger of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates into LSCU. The combined league will serve 343 institutions across three states, with nearly 10 million members and about $111 billion in assets.

The League of Southeastern CUs reported Q1 financial results for credit unions in Alabama and Florida earlier this week.

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