NW Credit Unions Pick Up 9% of New Members Nationally in 2011


March 13, 2012

David Bennett
425.221.1237 (mobile)

FEDERAL WAY,WA.; BEAVERTON, Ore.—The benefits of being a credit union member in Washington and Oregon were on full display last year as the two states accounted for 123,752 or 9.2 percent of the total national new membership gain of 1,344,936 in 2011, according to data just released by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

Washington added 104,000 new credit union members and Oregon picked up nearly 20,000 last year. The two states combined for 50,000 new memberships in the fourth quarter alone, bringing total membership in Oregon and Washington to 4.2 million.

Nationally, the fourth quarter in 2011 saw a net membership gain of 398,732. Washington added 38,301, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the nation’s new memberships during that period. Oregon added approximately 11,400 members during 2011’s fourth quarter, representing more than half of its yearly net membership gain.

“Last year was historic in terms of credit union awareness,” Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) CEO John Annaloro said. “As a region, though, the Pacific Northwest—especially Washington—outperformed most of the rest of the nation by 15-to-20 percent in terms of pure gains.”

Oregon’s 2011 membership numbers are skewed by the interstate merger of First Tech Federal Credit Union with California’s Addison Avenue Credit Union, which caused some 162,000 Oregon credit union members to shift under this technicality to become part of California’s numbers. Having adjusted for this, the data shows that 19,753 consumers joined a credit union in the state in 2011.

“A lot of factors played into what happened during last year’s fourth quarter,” NWCUA President Troy Stang said. “The important takeaway is that more people have access to cooperative finance than ever before at a time when it is desperately needed.”

There are many reasons why consumers chose to move their money to credit unions last year, however, Bank of America’s announcement that it would implement a new $5 monthly debit card fee undoubtedly was the moment that sparked consumers to act.

“We’ve always said that if consumers have a reason to consider credit unions, that cooperative finance would win the day,” said NWCUA Director of Public Relations David Bennett. “2011, especially its fourth quarter, proves that the benefits of being a credit union member are far more powerful than being a nameless customer of a big bank.”

Credit unions are structured as not-for-profit cooperatives, existing only to serve their members and return all profits to those members in the form of lower interest rates, higher returns and unmatched service. Learn more at http://www.aSmarterChoice.org.

Click here to download a copy of the press release.

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