WILMINGTON, N.C.-Credit unions' health has improved a bit.

The Glatt Consulting Credit Union Industry HealthScore, a composite performance score that ranks credit unions on a five-point scale, found the score for the first quarter of this year improved to 2.464, a 9.7% increase from Q4 2011 and a 3.19% increase from Q2 2011.

According to Glatt Consulting, the primary drivers for the better overall health were substantial increases in the scores for asset and membership growth.

The HealthScore has fluctuated at levels below 2.40 since mid-2008 on challenges stemming from slow U.S. economic growth and consumer lending demand, and the lingering cost of corporate credit union failures. The industry's highest score, 3.195, came in Q3 2001; the lowest, 2.148 in Q1 2009.

According to the company, the asset growth component score of 3.168 reflects an 81% improvement over the Q4 2011 score and a 12.4% improvement over the Q3 2011 score. A full 89% of credit unions experienced growth in this area, growth that pushed credit union assets above $1 trillion, the company said.

"While the membership growth component score of 1.155 was an improvement of 41% over the Q4 2011 score and a 23% improvement over the Q3 2011 score, it is important to note that 45% of all credit unions experienced declining membership growth," the company said. "This data highlights that fact that a minority of credit unions are responsible for broader industry health improvements in this area, and that strong sustainable membership growth continues to be a challenge for the broader credit union community."

The highest composite HealthScore of 4.727 is held by a credit union in Tennessee. The lowest score, 0.273, is held by a credit union in Pennsylvania.

For info: www.glattconsulting.com.

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