Northwest Credit Unions Drive $7.7 Billion Economic Impact

An independent economic study finds that Washington and Oregon credit unions drove a positive, $7.7 billion impact on the region’s economy last year

The 2016 Northwest Credit Unions’ Economic Impacts report by economists at ECONorthwest, measured supply chain spending, wages, and direct benefits delivered to 5.5 million Oregon and Washington members. The credit unions’ impact is equivalent to the annual revenue of national branding giants such as Hershey and Mutual of Omaha, according to ECONorthwest.

“Performing a high-level, independent economic analysis documents credit unions’ economic impact on communities, and the financial empowerment they provide to members,” said Troy Stang, President and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). “This leading-edge study will help elected officials and other community groups understand that credit unions’ not-for-profit, cooperative structure inherently holds them accountable to members. This data makes it clear that consumers must always have access to the cooperative financial services model.”

The analysis will be published in regional, state, county, and congressional district versions, Stang said, so local communities and elected officials will see the specific benefits credit unions are providing to their economies and constituents.

Foundational to the Local Economy

The economists who performed the study noted that credit unions as member-driven cooperatives, are “uniquely positioned to return direct benefits to members” such as “better interest rates, lower fees, and other services that hard-working Americans need.”

In 2016, the report found, 148 Northwest credit unions returned $528 million in direct benefits to members, which when spent in local communities, generated $574 million in total economic impact.

Direct member benefits increased 50 percent since ECONorthwest produced a similar study in 2014. In 2016, the average Northwest credit union member received direct benefits of $95, up from $72 in 2014. The analysis attributed the increase partly to membership growth. Between 2014 and 2016, an additional 637,685 new members joined a Northwest credit union, representing 13 percent growth. The region’s population grew just 2.7 percent during that period. Credit unions’ overall impact of $7.7 billion reflected a 13 percent increase from the $6.8 billion impact recorded in 2014, and outpaced the region’s 5.9 percent GDP growth.

Jobs and Income

The Northwest’s 17,061 credit union professionals earned total compensation of $1.24 billion in 2016. Every credit union job supports two others, the report finds, creating support for 51,010 family wage jobs.

Consumers’ Financial Lifeline

Nearly 50 percent of the area’s population belongs to a credit union, representing 3.58 million members in Washington, and 1.97 million members in Oregon. Credit unions are present in 63 of the region’s 75 counties.

Idaho Impact to be Studied as Well

In January, 2017, the NWCUA entered a Strategic Alliance management agreement with the Idaho Credit Union League (ICUL). Stang has announced that ECONorthwest economists has been commissioned this year to conduct a similar analysis documenting the economic impact of Idaho credit unions

Read the 2016 Northwest Credit Unions’ Economic Impacts report here: https://nwcua.org/credit-union-impact/

 

 

 

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The Northwest Credit Union Association is the not-for-profit trade association representing over 180 credit unions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and their 6 million consumer members. The NWCUA is the voice of the Northwest credit union movement, providing legislative, regulatory, and public advocacy in addition to education, compliance, networking support, and business solutions to credit unions. For information on how to join a credit union, please visit http://www.asmarterchoice.org.