CUs Shrink To Pre-WW II Levels

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For credit unions, 2005 was in one respect more like 1945.

That's because during the year the number of federally insured credit unions fell below the 9,000 mark for the first time since the advent of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. (The figure does not include state-chartered, privately insured credit unions.)

The decline in credit unions, which has come about primarily via mergers, especially among credit unions with fewer than $10 million in assets, has come at the same time the number of Americans claiming credit union membership has grown and now approaches 90 million.

"It does indicate that the trend toward consolidation continues. You see it in federal charters, state charters, everywhere. But in general it's a healthy trend," said NAFCU economist Jeff Taylor, who noted that in just 15 to 20 cases annually is a credit union merger the result of one institution having financial problems.

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