DULUTH, Ga. (9/16/09)--Georgia credit unions saw a boost in lending, largely due to refinancings, during the first six months of 2009, says an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Sept. 14). Credit unions in the state reported $2.1 billion in loans originated during the first half of the year, compared with $2 billion for the first six months of 2008. The number of loans dropped slightly but the average loan size rose. Mike Mercer, president/CEO of the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, said that much of the new business was generated from homeowners refinancing their mortgages. He told the publication the league was "pleasantly surprised that originations have been as good as they have." The article noted that loan volume growth has slowed, and earnings are down by about 50% across the board, with about one-fourth of the state's 168 credit unions reporting a loss over the period. Mercer told the newspaper that credit unions' deposit levels have shot up faster than money can be lent out. Credit unions are parking cash in overnight or short-term investment accounts, which earn far less than the 1% to 2% returns paid on the deposits, and that eats into the credit unions' earnings. Deposits are up about 16% over the same period last year because members are keeping money in their accounts rather than spending or investing. While credit unions' loans were up, the state's banks loan volume dipped slightly, to $207 billion at the end of June. That compares with $214 billion in June 2008.