California credit unions led the industry in expanding membership bases in the first half, Sheshunoff Information Services reports.

In the first six months of the year, 782 institutions in the Golden State added 65,758 potential members to their field of membership.

Texas credit unions were a distant second, with 825 institutions adding 40,449 potential members, Sheshunoff said. Coming in third were 278 Florida credit unions that can market services to 35,048 new people.

Nationwide, 12,079 credit unions added 432,154 potential members to their base in the first half, according to Sheshunoff.

"There's a general feeling among credit unions that existing fields of membership are as penetrated as they're going to be," said David Adair, research manager for the California Credit Union League.

Because of cutbacks or changes by sponsoring businesses, many credit unions are reaching out to new groups so they can diversify their membership.

For example, Northern Redwood Federal Credit Union expanded to serve the community around its Arcata, Calif., base because the logging company it originally served had cut back on business.

Gregory L. Goodwyn, chief executive of the $7 million institution, said the credit union took on 29,600 potential members as a survival move. Redwood's expansion was the largest by any credit union in the country. Only three states had more of a potential membership increase than Redwood did alone.

"We just want to have decent loan and savings growth and be competitive," Mr. Goodwyn said.

Representatives of Florida and Texas credit-union trade groups said institutions in their states are trying to make up for less-than-average industry penetration in the population.

"We're really lagging behind and now we're playing catch-up," Mr. Stachura said.

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