Credit union growth slowing

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published May 1, 2007  | May 2007 issue

An annual report on credit unions by a Wisconsin state regulatory office showed continued, but slowing, growth in the industry and lower earnings.

In the state's 267 credit unions, total assets grew by almost 6 percent, to about $16 billion. Personal loans dropped over the previous year, but were offset by an 11 percent increase in real estate loans. Despite the fact that cumulative operating income among credit unions rose by 6.5 percent, net income dropped by 17 percent, to $106 million. This decline in earnings was mostly the result of a smaller spread between interest rates on loans and deposits and a 6 percent annual increase in administrative expenses.

Last year's performance was a bit of a hiccup. Over the previous five-year period, annual average growth for loans and assets was close to 10 percent; average return on assets was some 30 basis points higher than in 2006. The number of credit unions declined by almost 5 percent, but the drop was the result of consolidations among two or more credit unions. Total credit union members inched up nearly 2 percent.

Ronald A. Wirtz