COLUMBUS, Ohio (5/1/09)--Ohio’s 412 credit unions continued to lend amidst a national credit crunch and made significant gains in assets last year, according to a 2008 year-end report by the Ohio Credit Union League. In 2008, loan growth increased more than 7.4%, compared with a negative loan growth in 2007 and an increase in growth of nearly 5% in 2006. Assets grew by nearly 7.4% over the same time period, compared with 1.4% in 2007 and 4.9% in 2006. The loan growth posted by Ohio credit unions was nearly 0.75% higher than the national credit union average. Ohio credit union mortgage originations in 2008 rose 29.2% despite a weak housing market, which saw home sales fall 13.1% in the state. While auto sales also continued to slow, outstanding auto loans at Ohio credit unions bucked the trend, posting a 4.8% growth in 2008. “It is apparent that more and more Ohioans have turned to not-for-profit financial institutions for lending as other institutions reduced credit,” said Paul Mercer, president of the league. “Our cooperative approach to financial services allows us to weather economic decline. Credit unions are safe, sound and secure, and our capitalization levels are nearly double the regulatory requirement.” Capital levels at Ohio credit unions remain strong, with the average net worth-to-assets ratio at more than 12.1%--higher than the national average of 10.9%. Credit unions with a ratio at or above 7% are considered well-capitalized. Loan delinquencies rose slightly in 2008 to 1.32%, still below the national average of 1.37% and well below the national bank average of 2.01%. Membership in Ohio credit unions declined -.03%, with the total number of credit union members in Ohio at more than 2.6 million. Year-end data from 2007 and 2006 shows similar membership growth, declining 2.8% and 1.3%, respectively. The stagnant membership growth is attributed to an increase in credit union mergers--19 in Ohio in 2008--and slower population growth. The average credit union in Ohio has more than 6,300 members, nearly $45 million in assets, and more than $28 million in loans. Ohio credit unions employ more than 6,800 Ohioans, who receive more than $138.5 million in annual compensation combined.