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San Diego County Adds 60,000 New Credit Union Members

San Diego County CA— More than 60,000 consumers over the past year chose to become members of a local credit union headquartered in San Diego County as of Sept. 30, 2017 (third quarter), according to the 3rd Quarter Credit Union Trends Report for San Diego County.

San Diego County now boasts 986,000 individuals who are “member-owners” of 16 locally headquartered credit unions — a record high (the last historical peak was 749,000 in 2010). Each person owns an equal share of his or her respective credit union, with all profits reinvested to benefit every member in the form of lower interest rates and lower or no fees.

How these credit union members are spending their money on homes, remodeling projects, new and used automobiles, higher education, surviving life events, and other big-purchase items provides a key barometer into what’s happening across the local economy. (For local context you can view the latest San Diego County economic forecast hosted in March 2017).

This news release reflects year-over-year trends in local loans and deposits and is published by the Ontario, CA-based California Credit Union League. Local consumers who are members of San Diego County-based credit unions:

  • Continue taking on first-mortgages to purchase or refinance homes. First-mortgages rose 6 percent, hitting a record $6.4 billion. The last historical peak was $4.4 billion in 2009. (This may include fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, purchase, traditional refinance, and cash-out refinance mortgages)
  • Are turning home equity into cash for remodeling or other large purchases. Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) and second-mortgages combined increased 6 percent, reaching $813 million — an amount not seen since 2011.
  • Have slid into the driver’s seat of a newer car or truck more often. New auto loans rose 32 percent, hitting a record $2.1 billion. Used auto loans rose 21 percent, hitting a record $2.4 billion.
  • Remain true to the habit of paying for life through credit cards. Credit card lending rose 10 percent, hitting a record $529 million.
  • Are trying to save more money and increasingly using credit unions to transact purchases/bill-pay. Total deposits rose 6 percent, hitting a record $14.7 billion (including record individual amounts in checking, savings, and money market accounts).

“These credit union trends will continue as long as the economy continues to perform well,” said Dwight Johnston, chief economist for the California Credit Union League.

He noted some areas of concern. Employers are having increasing difficulty finding workers in a tight labor market, which will limit economic growth “to some degree.” He also has concerns the economy may start running out of steam by late 2018. Consumer spending might be “good” by then, but its growth rate could still disappoint. If Wall Street reacts negatively to consumer spending numbers versus expectations, businesses could somewhat pull back on spending and hiring plans.

However, “There is nothing that suggests an economic slowdown is imminent, which makes the overall picture for credit unions bright,” Johnston said. “In fact, the business-skewed tax bill Congress recently passed should accelerate growth through at least the third quarter of this year.”

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