Supported by an improving
job market and increased property values, Georgia experienced a surge in new
vehicle purchases in 2012.
That’s according to the latest "Paying Attention" report by Georgia Credit
Union Affiliates (GCUA). The report found that new vehicle loans at the state's
credit unions increased by 15.4 percent, and used car loans grew by 7.9 percent
last year in Georgia.
Published quarterly, "Paying Attention" compiles savings and lending data
from 38 credit unions from across the state, representing 92 percent of credit
union assets and 86 percent of members in Georgia. The report’s findings coincide
with strong U.S. auto sales last year – 2012 total car and light truck sales
reached 14.4 million units – a 13 percent increase over 2011 results and the
highest total since 2007.
"In Georgia, improving economic conditions helped to build consumer
confidence," said Mike Mercer, president and CEO of GCUA. "This upturn
in car sales is not just good news for car dealerships, but also proof of the
state’s ongoing economic recovery."
Helping drive demand for new vehicles, many Georgians returned to work in 2012.
The state's unemployment rate dipped to 8.6 percent at the end of the year, the
lowest level in nearly four years and nearly one point lower than the 9.4 percent
reading at the start of 2012.
"With an improved economic outlook, it made sense for Georgians to finance
their vehicles through credit unions," Mercer said. "The average rate
on a five-year auto loan at the state’s credit unions averages more than one percent lower than banks – another reason why Georgians continue to rely on credit unions for their lending needs."
Strong gains in the housing market also boosted Georgians' consumer confidence in 2012. Home prices rose 7.7 percent, and credit unions experienced a 5.73 percent increase in first mortgage portfolios.