ATLANTA (8/25/11)--Georgia's credit union members are saving more, but would still be short on their ability to pay long-term expenses if they lost their income, according to the most recent Georgia Credit Unions "Paying Attention" poll. Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) compiles the quarterly report based on poll responses from more than 6,000 credit union members and from aggregated data from credit unions statewide. More than half (52%) of Georgians polled could not cover essential expenses for more than three months, and more than three-fourths could not do so for more than a year. However, that's an improvement from survey results a year ago, when 76.3% indicated they couldn't survive more than three months, said GCUA. "The good news is that many Georgians are starting to realize the need to save, but the bad news is most haven't saved enough to cover essential expenses more than three months," said Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. "Our poll shows that paying down debt and cutting expenses are among the top strategies consumers are using to get back to saving consistently." The new report revealed that 40.8% of Georgians set a savings goal this year. Of those with a goal, 55.2% believe they can attain it. Roughly 35.5% of respondents said they eliminated vacations to cut costs; 58.1% indicated high gas prices were a factor. Still, 58.5% said they plan to take a trip in the next 12 months. GCUA also compiled savings and lending data from 38 credit unions representing 91% of credit union assets and 84% of members in the state. It found a trend toward savings with mixed results in lending. Among the findings:
* Savings deposits increased 9.12% for the first half of 2011 and 9.43% for the past 12 months. * Business lending continued growth of 17.01%, but this growth rate is based on a low loan base because the current business lending cap for credit unions is low, at 12.25%, said GCUA. (Credit unions, state leagues and the Credit Union National Association are pushing Congress to raise the lending cap to 27.5% to help generate 140,000 jobs and $13 billion in business loans without cost to the taxpayer). * Used-car lending, which has been in a slump, grew 3.97% during second quarter; * First mortgage balances rose 3.1% in the first six months of 2011 and 11.81% the past year, largely due to refinances at larger credit unions; * Members' bankruptcy filings dropped in June by 9.72% from June 2010; * Credit card balances decreased 3% in the first half of 2011 but increased 2.6% from the same period a year ago; * Certificates of deposit dropped 1.8%; consumers unwillingness to lock their money away a long term with historically low rates was likely a factor, said GCUA.
To access the full report and a video, use the link.