HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/31/09)--Loan growth for Pennsylvania credit unions continues to be strong, according to the just-released Pennsylvania Profile Fourth Quarter 2008, despite the U.S. economy, which contracted at a 6.2% annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2008. Overall credit union loan growth totaled 8.1%, with business loans increasing by 35.7%, first mortgages by 17.9%, and used-car loans by 8.7%. The only loan category seeing negative loan growth was new-car loans, falling 4.9% due to lower consumer demand in the marketplace (Life in a Highway March 30). “While others in the marketplace have restricted their extensions of credit, credit unions continue to accept deposits and make loans to members,” said Jim McCormack, president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. “Many of Pennsylvania’s credit unions were born out of the Great Depression when average consumers found it difficult to get credit,” McCormack added. “So it’s not surprising that as we are in the deepest recession since the 1930s, credit unions are still a strong source of consumer and small business credit in communities throughout Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania credit unions also experienced increased deposit numbers and growth in membership during the quarter. Against a difficult economic backdrop, Pennsylvania credit unions reported a 31 basis point return on assets (ROA), down from 77 basis points in the third quarter. For the full year, Pennsylvania credit unions reported 65 basis points in ROA--above the national average of 31 basis points.