SEATAC, Wash., and TIGARD, Ore. (1/28/15)--A new economic analysis shows credit unions delivered $6.8 billion in economic benefits in Washington and Oregon in 2014.
|(Source: Northwest Credit Union Association)|
Cooperative financial institutions provided more than 15,000 family-wage jobs and delivered $352 million in direct benefits to their 4.9 million members in 2014, according to the analysis by the independent firm ECONorthwest.
The ECONorthwest analysis was commissioned by the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA).
"The ECONorthwest analysis underscores the economic impact of credit unions in Oregon and Washington. In many ways, credit unions are the communities they serve," said Troy Stang, NWCUA president/CEO. "It is the not-for-profit financial cooperative business structure that credit unions operate under that makes them unique--they deliver real, tangible value to the economy."
Not-for-profit credit unions are structured to put their members' interests first, and to ensure that families and small businesses have affordable access to financial services.
Credit union members received an average direct benefit of $76 per individual member in Washington, while Oregon credit union members received an average direct benefit of $63 per individual member. Collectively, credit unions put $352 million into the wallets of their members. That money created buying power of more than $732 million, according to Michael Wilkerson, ECONorthwest economist.
John Tapogna, president of ECONorthwest, compared the economic impact of credit union member benefits to the effect that falling gas prices have recently had on consumers' pocketbooks.
"As people spend less money on gasonline they have more money for everything else they want to buy," Tapogna told News Now. "You have that same kind of stimulus effect when credit unions members pay low interest rates on loans and receive higher returns on their savings. At the end of the year their members have more money they can spend more broadly in the economy."
Credit unions employed 10,415 people in Washington and 4,908 in Oregon. Every credit union job supports another 2.02 jobs for workers in other sectors, according to ECONorthwest, resulting in a total impact of 46,296 Northwest jobs.
"Whether it's the people who work in credit unions, the people who build credit union branches or the businesses small and large that support them, the credit union footprint is found throughout the Northwest economy," said Tapogna.
Credit unions are also foundations for the communities they serve, according to the report. In Northwest rural communities, about 617,500 consumers are members of credit unions, representing 37% of the rural population. Credit unions are often the only financial institutions available in many Northwest communities.
The $6.8 billion economic impact documented by ECONorthwest does not include the additional influence of lending activities such as auto lending, mortgage lending and business lending. A current lending snapshot shows Northwest credit unions have nearly 3 million loans outstanding totaling almost $40 billion.