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Credit Union Movement Increasingly Popular Among Consumers
Wednesday, June 24, 2015 6:40 AM

Consumers appear to be drawn to the idea that credit unions are member-owned, not-for-profit financial institutions, according to an article on the personal finance website, The Cheat Sheet.  The article attributes some of this growth to lower and fewer fees and higher interest rates on savings because they aren’t beholden to investors.

The article noted that savings at credit unions nationwide topped $1 trillion earlier this month, which was recently reported by CUNA and CUNA Mutual Group. Further, credit union memberships rose at a record pace in the first quarter, climbing by nearly 500,000 to 102.8 million nationwide, putting the annualized growth at 4 percent. Loans portfolios also jumped 10.6 percent annually in March, the article said.

“Credit union members are an extremely close proxy for the American middle-market consumer, and this report goes beyond sentiment data to demonstrate that these consumers are feeling better than they have in quite some time,” Steve Rick, CUNA Mutual Group chief economist, told The Cheat Sheet.

The article also cited Nielsen Scarborough data that revealed which metro areas have experienced the highest rates of membership growth between 2008 and 2014.  

Seattle/Tacoma saw memberships rise 8.3 percent, followed by Oklahoma City (7.7 percent), Portland, Oregon (6.7 percent), Austin, Texas (6.5 percent), and Jacksonville, Florida (6.1 percent).

As of 2014, a record 31.5 percent of people in the Seattle/Tacoma area used a credit union as their primary financial institution.