The nation’s credit union membership grew three times faster over the last ten years than the growth of the U.S. population as a whole, according to new comparative data gathered for the first time in Callahan & Associates’ 2002 Credit Union Directory to be published early next month.
While U.S. population went up 13% in the period, credit union membership soared 45%, shows a table outlining the growth of credit union membership versus census data for every state over the past decade. “At the same time, credit union membership penetration has gone from 22% to 28%,” points out Chip Filson, president of Callahan’s. “This is an extreme success story.”
While actual residence of members can be different in some multi-state metropolitan areas like the District of Columbia and may skew individual state data to some extent, the overwhelming pattern of the trends in the table holds true, Filson says.
The top five in credit union member penetration are the District of Columbia (78%); Alaska (60%); Utah (54%); Hawaii (51%); and Maine (47%). Outside of the special case of the District with its many federal agency credit unions, the surprising leader states tend to be those with a strong local focus and those with far-flung communities, Filson says. Utah chalked up the fastest growing credit union membership in the country with a gain of over 54% in members from 794,344 in June of 1990 to 1,226,305 in June of 2001. The table also shows Utah has one of the fastest growing populations of any state. The population grew from 1,722,850 in April of 1990 to 2,233,169 in April of 2000, a gain of over 29.5%. Filson credits the surge in credit union membership with Utah credit unions’ leadership in establishing open fields of membership which translated into vigorous growth.
The table also shows that Vermont with only an 8% population growth from 562,758 to 608,827 in the 2000 census experienced a whopping 99% growth in credit union membership which represented a more than double increase in membership. “This displays the attractiveness of the credit union system to Vermonters,” Filson says.
Even better was the experience of North Carolina credit unions which had the fastest member growth of any state in the last 10 years. Membership surged up 105% in the decade and accounted for over an 11% growth in credit union penetration while the overall population of the state increased 21%.
The nation’s top credit unions by asset size (California, Texas, Virginia, New York and Michigan) had a varied showing on the new growth table to be published in the “State of the States: section of the 2002 Credit Union Directory. The leader, California, which has 15% of all credit union assets in the nation, had a membership growth rate of 38%, below the national rate of 45%, and the penetration rate of 26.6% in 2001 caused the state to slip from 28th to 33rd place. “What this indicates is that the opportunity for more credit union membership growth and penetration is substantial in California,” Filson concludes.
The value of the new table listings in the 2002 Directory is its potential for helping many credit unions, corporates and state leagues to benchmark their performance and even project an idea of what their chances of growth might be if they were as effective as the most effective states.