In addition to seeing their membership numbers cross the 100 million mark, U.S. credit unions reported another major milestone in 2014: their fastest annual membership growth rate in 20 years.
Credit Union National Association (CUNA) revealed Friday that credit union memberships grew by 3.6 percent last year, the highest growth rate since 1994.
"Credit unions truly had a banner year, as 2014 marked a time that credit unions experienced exceptional growth, something that hasn't been seen in two decades," said CUNA president and CEO Jim Nussle. "I'm proud of the credit union movement, its growing membership—from 100 million in August to 102 million to close out the year—and the fact that more Americans are choosing credit unions as their best financial partner."
Loan portfolios also saw a solid increase over the year. CUNA reports that credit union loans outstanding grew by 10.2 percent in 2014, the fastest jump since 2005.
Home lending products accounted for a sizable portion of that growth, with fixed-rate mortgages seeing year-over-year gains of 6.7 percent and adjustable-rate mortgages climbing 14.1 percent over 2013. Home equity lending activity also grew, gaining 7.2 percent.
Perc Pineda, CUNA senior economist, predicted further growth in the year ahead.
"Against the backdrop of better economic conditions—positive output growth, rising personal income, falling unemployment and increasing consumer confidence—competitive rates will ensure more lending at credit unions in 2015," Pineda said. "CUNA's baseline forecast calls for loan portfolios to jump 11 percent this year, eclipsing 2014 results."