Net income attributable to U.S. Bancorp was $1.673 billion for the fourth quarter of 2021, which was $154 million higher than the $1,519 million for the fourth quarter of 2020, and $355 million lower than the $2,028 million for the third quarter of 2021, the company said Jan. 19. Full-year income was $7.9 billion on net revenue of $22.8 billion.
Net income decreased on a linked quarter basis primarily due to lower net interest income, mainly due to lower loan fees related to the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, and lower noninterest income, primarily due to seasonally lower payments and capital markets revenues and lower mortgage banking revenue as refinancing continued to decline. The net interest margin declined 13 basis points from 2.53 percent on a linked quarter basis primarily reflecting lower PPP loan fees as well as the impact of strong deposit flows and related investment and cash balance strategies.
Average total loans for the fourth quarter of 2021 were $447 million (0.1 percent) higher than the fourth quarter of 2020. The increase was primarily due to growth in credit card balances (2.1 percent) and other retail loans (20.3 percent) offset by lower total commercial loans (1.8 percent) and total commercial real estate (3.1 percent) and residential mortgages (1.2 percent). The strong growth in other retail was driven by auto and recreational vehicle lending, offset by declining home equity and second mortgages (17.5 percent). The decrease in total commercial loans (1.8 percent) was driven by expected forgiveness of SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans and lower total commercial real estate loans (3.1 percent) was a result of paydowns.
Average total deposits for the fourth quarter of 2021 were $27.4 billion (6.5 percent) higher than the fourth quarter of 2020.
Full year diluted earnings per common share were $5.10. Full year average earning assets growth was 5.1% and average total deposits grew by 8.9%. The return on average assets was 1.43 percent and return on average equity 16.0%.