Washington Credit Unions Deliver $5.5 Billion Boost to State, Consumers

Washington’s credit unions drove a positive, $5.5 billion impact on the state’s economy last year, according to a just-released, independent economic analysis performed by ECONorthwest

The 2016 Northwest Credit Unions’ Economic Impacts report measured jobs, economic output, and income supported by Northwest credit unions, as well as the direct benefits delivered to 3.5 million Washington credit union members.

What’s in it for the members? $369 million in direct benefits last year!

The key difference between local credit unions and other financial services providers, is credit unions’ not-for-profit cooperative structure. Credit unions are owned and driven by the members who use their services. Unlike for-profit financial institutions that must pay stockholders, credit unions exist only to serve their member-owners’ financial needs, and are uniquely positioned to return direct benefits to them. Those benefits include value such as better interest rates, lower fees, and other services that hard-working Washingtonians need.

The 2016 Northwest Credit Unions’ Economic Impacts report finds Washington’s credit unions returned an average benefit of $103 to each member, or $369 million to members collectively. When members spent their benefits in local communities, that generated $413 million of spending in the state.

“The return to members is an impressive 50 percent higher than it was two years ago, when ECONorthwest performed a similar analysis,” said Troy Stang, President and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association. “Credit unions’ cooperative, not-for-profit structure holds them inherently accountable to the members who own them, which is why credit union membership is such a value for Main Street consumers.”

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

The ECONorthwest analysis documented that Washington’s credit unions are providing family-wage jobs for 11,215 professionals, who earned a total compensation of $819 million.

“Every credit union job supports two others, meaning the state’s credit unions supported 34,400 jobs in the economy,” said Michael Wilkerson, PhD, Senior Economist for ECONorthwest.

 

Consumers’ Financial Lifeline

Credit unions are financial service partners to consumers in 32 of Washington’s 39 counties. Credit unions’ popularity is outpacing the population growth. Since 2014, 637,685 new members have joined a credit union in Washington or Oregon, representing 13 percent growth. The region’s population grew 2.7 percent during the same period.

Loans, Loans, Loans

In addition to the economic impact documented by the 2016 Northwest Credit Unions’ Economic Impacts report, the National Credit Union Administration noted that as of September, 2016, Washington credit unions had more 2.5 million active loans–an investment of $38.1 billion in members and communities.

“Credit union loans represent a significant investment in working-class Washingtonians,” said Stang. “Those loans put members in their dream homes, help them buy the cars that get them to work, and help them start small businesses.”

Join a Credit Union and Make 2017 the Year You Take Control of Your Money

Nearly all Washington residents are eligible for credit union membership. Own your money. To find a credit union that’s convenient for you, please visit www.asmarterchoice.org.

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 Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and their 6 million consumer members. Northwest Credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, owned by their members. Credit unions help members achieve their financial goals. All earnings in excess of operating expenses and required reserves are returned to members in the form of lower loan rates, fewer fees and higher interest paid on savings. Credit union members’ accounts are insured up to $250,000 by the NCUA. For information on how to join a credit union, please visit http://www.asmarterchoice.org.