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Credit Unions: A Recession Winner?

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Credit unions are catching on with consumers.

According to new analysis from Market Rates Insight, a market research firm focusing on bank rates, credit unions grew in memberships and deposit volume in the 12 months ending in March.

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Membership in credit unions increased to 91 million from 90.2 million in the year ending in March, Market Rates Insight data show.

Membership in credit unions increased to 91 million from 90.2 million, or 725,531 new members at an average operating cost of $149 for each account. The average memberships per credit union also increased, to 12,475 from 12,035.

Credit union deposits increased to $812 billion from $773 billion in the same timeframe, showing an overall increase of $39 billion. The average deposits per member had increased to $8,923 from $8,568, or $355 more per member.

Traditional saving accounts, checking accounts and money market accounts all showed significant increases as well: $23 billion, $10 billion and $15 billion, respectively, while deposits in CDs decreased by $12.

The boost in business and membership is not surprising, seeing as credit unions, member-owned and not-for-profit financial institutions, are often applauded for their competitive interest rates, low fees and better customer service.

"The credit union segment of the banking industry is very dynamic," Dan Geller, Ph.D. and executive vice president at Market Rates Insight, says in a press release. "The increases in membership and in balance volume are an indication of broad appeal to and acceptance by the marketplace."

The analysis found the increase in business occurred despite a decrease in the total number of credit unions from 7,498 to 7,292, as 206 institutions were closed.

Market Rates Insight analysis is based on an aggregate of financial data collected from deposit surveys, mortgage and consumer loan surveys, fee and feature studies, scanned ads, new product alerts and market share and money fund reports.

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