A Wishy-Washy Economy

Mixed signals about the economy don’t diminish the positive work of credit unions.


We think America is on the road to recovery, and then we get mixed messages.

For example, an article on CNNMoney.com recently detailed an increase in temporary jobs, which can be a harbinger of full-time hiring’s return. The only problem: The job market isn’t expanding at the rate it should, and the full-time hires aren’t happening. Good news in temporary jobs. Not so good news in the overall market.

In housing, mortgage delinquencies are down at credit unions for the second straight quarter, but foreclosures across the nation hit record highs in August. And closer to home, troubled credit unions are showing undeniable evidence of recovery…only to be conserved by NCUA.

Despite this rollercoaster of emotion, credit unions in the second quarter of 2010 led local economic recoveries. And success wasn’t dependent on asset size.

At one end of the spectrum is Community First Credit Union ($1.4B, Appleton, WI). “If we’re going to have members truly embrace the idea of a cooperative, they need to understand that it’s a give and take,” says Catherine Tierney, president and chief executive officer of Community First.

Her attitude drives the credit union’s considerable impact on its community.

On the other end are people such as CEO Randy Marks of $103 million MECE Credit Union. He  credits the high quality of the membership for his credit union’s growth and asset quality profile.

If you want an in-depth look at how the people I’ve mentioned are fueling growth, check out the 2Q edition of CUSP (you will need to log-in to access the articles). You’ll find articles that explain Community First’s success (and mosey on over to CUSP online for video of how the credit union does it), Leadership Perspectives illustrating what good hands credit unions are in and an examination of how CUSOs help members get in (and stay in) their homes.

Finding the good stories might be a little harder these days, but it’s not impossible. Regardless of the larger economic environment, credit unions are proving once again – and again – the difference we make in the lives of our members and in our communities despite a confused economy.