WASHINGTON-Who Uses Credit Unions?, the latest study from the Filene Research Institute dispels a couple of false impressions about credit union members, according to the researchers. Jinkook Lee of Ohio State University and William A. Kelly of University of Wisconsin found in the third of their series of reports profiling credit union members versus bank customers that credit union members are not more affluent than bank customers and people are not exclusively credit union members or non-members. “These general perceptions have created misunderstandings about who credit union members are and what their financial status is,” the report read. “Misperceptions can lead to improper public policy and also can waste credit union marketing resources. We find that households using a bank and not a credit union have higher incomes and wealth than households that use only a credit union.” “Certainly the study by Drs. Lee and Kelly has the potential to be an important tool in credit unions’ efforts to tell the truth about what it is credit unions are, and who they serve,” CUNA Vice President of Communications and Media Outreach Pat Keefe said. “There can be little doubt that the results of this study will figure in to CUNA’s on-going efforts to contravene banker attacks, protect credit unions’ tax status and-most importantly-ensure that consumers, credit unions and their supporters have the straight scoop about who credit unions serve.” NAFCU Communications Manager John Zimmerman agreed, adding that it also should make his job a bit easier. In speaking with reporters, including from banking publications, Zimmerman said he “normally has to combat many bank falsehoods.” With this new study, he will have fresh data to counter bank statements. “Credit unions are not interfering with bank profitability and the flipside of that is market share.Credit unions are not eating into banks market share. The data does not support that,” Zimmerman said. Lee and Kelly studied data from a survey of 4,449 households sponsored by the Federal Reserve, which found that 58% exclusively used banks, while another 16% primarily used banks. Just 12% primarily used credit unions and only 8% used credit unions exclusively. Additionally, 6% were unbanked. This five-category approach provides a more accurate view than the typical member/non-member division, which has lead to the misconceptions, the researchers said. Filene also uncovered that those with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000 are 23 times more likely to use a bank only, while those over $200,000 were 68 times more likely. Bank-only households had a median annual income of $37,004 and those who primarily used banks had an income of $60,646. Those primarily using credit unions made $52,423. Households exclusively using credit unions had a median income of $34,948. The median income of the unbanked was $11,307. “This is consistent with our findings that as income and wealth rise, households use more than one institution,” the report read. “However, among the households that use both, those that use a credit union primarily have higher median incomes than those that use a bank primarily.” In contrast, of the households that use more than one institution, those who mostly use banks only have higher median net financial wealth than those who use a credit union primarily. Additionally, the median net financial wealth of those who use banks only is 2.7 times higher than those who only use credit unions. The unbanked had the lowest level of education, with about half not earning a high school diploma. Households using credit unions and banks obtained a higher level of education with more than 40% earning a college degree. Of those exclusively using credit unions, about one-quarter had a college degree. The figure for bank-only households was one in three. Credit union only members had the highest percentage of those with a high school education as their highest level at 43%. While the unemployed were most likely to be unbanked, 78% said they did have a financial affiliation. Further, the unemployed were most likely to exclusively use credit union services at 11%. Credit union members tend to be younger, according to the report. The highest percentages of households using banks only were 65-74 (73.64%) and 75+ (77.62%). In contrast the highest percentage of households exclusively using credit unions were under age 35 (9.99%). Who Uses Credit Unions? also breaks the data down into race/ethnicity, gender, and marital status. [email protected]

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