Economic Analysis: Northwest Credit Unions Drive $7.8 Billion Economic Impact

The independent analysis by ECONorthwest demonstrates the value that credit unions, as not-for-profit cooperatives, deliver to Main Street.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CONTACT:  
Lynn Heider  
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503.329.7208 (Mobile) 

SEATAC, Wash. (Jan. 15, 2019) Credit unions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington delivered $7.8 billion in economic support to their states’ economies last year, according to a new report by ECONorthwest, the region’s largest economic consulting firm.  

The report, “2018 Economic Impacts of Credit Unions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington,” was commissioned by the Northwest Credit Union Association. Economists measured jobs, economic output, and income supported by credit unions. The analysis will be shared with federal lawmakers during the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in March, and with state legislatures in the Northwest this month. 

“It’s our policy officials who originally gave us the opportunity to be cooperatives in this marketplace,” said Troy Stang, NWCUA President and CEO. “That authority came with the promise that real, tangible benefits would be delivered to the participants, the consumers, in the markets credit unions serve. The economic report gives an opportunity for credit union stories to be told.” 

A large portion of the economic impact – over $603 million – was in the form of benefits delivered directly to the region’s 7.3 million members. 

“The $603 million benefit to members is unique to credit unions because of their not-for-profit, cooperative model,” said Dr. Michael Wilkerson, ECONorthwest Project Director and Partner. “Our analysis found that those benefits, and credit union members’ reinvestment of them in local communities across Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, generated a total impact of $1.3 billion.” 

A Clear Choice for Consumers  

When it comes to membership, Northwest credit unions far outpace the national average of 32 percent of the population. ECONorthwest’s analysis tracked memberships in credit unions headquartered in the three-state region, and in credit unions with a presence in the Northwest and found that over 55 percent of the region’s consumers have chosen a credit union as their financial services partner. 

Membership in Idaho credit unions grew by nearly 75,000 consumers since ECONorthwest performed its last analysis in the Gem State in 2017. Nearly one million Idahoans – 992,000 consumers – belong to a credit union.  

Since ECONorthwest’s last analysis of Washington and Oregon credit unions was completed in 2016, membership has grown by 14 percent, compared to 3.4 percent population growth. In Oregon, 2,053,000 consumers, 50 percent of the population, are credit union members. In Washington, 58 percent of the population – 4.3 million people – belong to a credit union. 

Workforce Support 

The region’s credit unions employed 18,700 professionals during the analysis year. Each job in the three-state economy supports approximately one and a half additional jobs, meaning credit unions supported a total workforce of 46,800 in the three states. Family wage income supported by Northwest credit unions was nearly $3 billion, the report found. 

 A Financial Partner in Rural Communities

While the largest concentration of credit union membership is in the Northwest’s larger cities, ECONorthwest found that credit unions offer vital financial services in rural communities.

“While many out-of-state, for-profit financial services institutions have closed branches in rural communities, local credit unions remain committed to serving these populations, providing services such as agricultural, home, vehicle, and small business loans that area consumers need,” the report noted. 

ECONorthwest reported that 312,000 consumers– 33 percent of the Northwest’s rural residents– are leveraging the benefits of credit union membership.

“As a consumer in the marketplace, seeing that a not-for-profit cooperative credit union delivers these benefits to your friends, families, and neighbors, drives home the message that credit unions deliver value to Main Street, not Wall Street,” Stang said. 

In a video interview available for your website, Troy Stang talks about the importance of messaging economic impact to state and federal legislators and policy decision-makers.

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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 7.3 million consumer members. According to an independent analysis released by economists at ECONorthwest in 2019, the region’s credit unions drove a positive economic impact of $7.8 billion last year. The NWCUA is the voice of the Northwest credit union movement, providing compliance, regulatory, advocacy, and professional development support to credit unions so they can serve their members.