ALEXANDRIA, Va. (5/28/2009)—Although fewer loans were issued, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Wednesday reported a double-digit increase in overall member share accounts among its 7,749 federally insured credit unions during the first three months of 2009. The NCUA also reported the return-on-average-assets (ROA) ratio declined from negative 0.01% at yearend 2008 to negative 1.51% at the end of March. However, the NCUA’s reported ROA decline does not consider what earnings would have been absent the NCUA’s corporate stabilization costs, which can be spread out under provisions signed into law last week. CUNA economists estimate with that taken into account, ROA would have been close to break even. Lending growth overall was essentially flat, with mortgage lending staying apace with other loan products that showed little or negative growth, primarily as a result of historically low home loan rates. Yet, credit unions continued to maintain strong capital levels, at close to 10%, despite a slow economy and the expense of the corporate stabilization program. In a statement accompanying the release of the quarterly figures, NCUA Chairman Michael Fryzel said that credit union members were “strong depositors, posting gains in every category” of member share and savings accounts during the 2009 first quarter. Fryzel noted that credit unions’ continued strong capital levels came despite negative effects of the still-troubled economy and the estimated costs associated with National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund replenishment for corporate stabilization costs. Credit union financial positions overall will be substantially improved by the aforementioned, recently signed law that allows credit unions to spread costs associated with the NCUA’s stabilizations efforts over seven and eight years. Also noted in the report, the net worth of federally insured credit unions declined by 3.9% percent during the quarter, to a total of $83.1 billion. By the numbers, the total assets held by federally chartered credit unions increased by 5.6% to a total of $856.4 billion. Total investments increased by 14.5%t and shares increased by 6.4%, for totals of $189.8 billion and $724.5 billion, respectively. Share drafts increased by 6.7%, regular shares increased by 7.9%, money market shares increased 8.2%, share certificates grew 3.9%, and IRA/KEOGH accounts rose by 6.5%, NCUA said. Credit unions’ overall loan delinquency rate showed the smallest quarterly increase in more than a year, to 1.44% at March 31 up from 1.37% at year-end 2008.