Boise, ID.  –  The governor might not have mentioned them in this week’s State of the State address, but credit unions in Idaho are booming.

According to a new economic analysis by ECONorthwest, Idaho’s 35 credit unions provided a nearly $640 million boost to the state’s economy in 2016.

The report also says credit unions generated about $90 million in direct benefits to members.

Troy Stang, president and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association, says that’s because credit unions are cooperatively owned and not-for-profit, meaning they don’t have to pay shareholders.

“The accountability is back to its consumer, back to the members that it serves, and not corporate owners like a Wall Street-owned institution,” he points out. “And so, the direct member benefits show up in the form of higher interest rates on savings, lower interest rates on loans, lower fees, and access to financial services.”

About 917,000, or 55 percent of Idahoans are credit union members. They currently have more than 500,000 loans through their local credit unions, which Stang says also helps drive the state’s economy and support working families.

The report says credit unions also are job creators. They employ more than 2,500 Idahoans, and each of those jobs supports 1.2 other jobs in the economy.

Stang notes that credit union jobs are connected directly to local communities.

“Idaho’s credit unions, by the sheer nature of them being cooperatives, anchor them in their ownership right to the local economy,” he points out. “So, it doesn’t matter if you’re in eastern Idaho or northern Idaho, in the Treasure Valley – the credit unions are local.”

According to the ECONorthwest research, credit unions are especially important for rural Idahoans. They’re present in 34 of the state’s 44 counties, and more than 150,000 rural residents are members.


Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service