Small but mighty credit unions work to nurture communities out of COVID

Millions of consumers in the United States are learning to re-adjust to this near post-COVID period. Many are also re-thinking their approach to newfound financial challenges, how to overcome them, and how to  take proper steps to improve their financial wellness goals.  

Tough concepts when a member or their loved one has been furloughed or laid off in the last year. Stimulus checks have long vanished, Child Tax Credit only goes so far. They need help, and they need tangible, results-oriented solutions from a trusted, community-oriented source. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), both the unemployment rate, 5.9 percent, and the number of unemployed workers, 9.5 million, had changed little from early last month. These measures are down considerably from their historic highs at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020 but remain well above levels prior to the coronavirus.  

We believe a key part of getting the U.S. economy back to the best it can be is reinforcing the collective growth of our nation’s credit unions down to the smallest, community-centric CUs that serve the most underserved communities. These tiny-but-mighty credit unions with less than $100 million in assets continue to work for their membership while doing their best to adapt to necessities and changes in the industry, oftentimes with the slimmest of operating margins.  

A key concern for credit unions is ensuring underserved consumers aren’t getting left behind, or ultimately left out, when meeting their financial inclusion needs.
Photo: Madrona Rose | Unsplash

Despite such challenges for small credit unions, they remain no less crucial to the financial health of their communities. “I’d contend we’re more relevant now to the needs of our members than we’ve ever been before,” says Dale Hansard, Caprock Federal Credit Union’s President and CEO, and chair of the Small Credit Union Committee. “The whole movement has a stake in what happens to our smallest institutions.”  

That dedication to financial inclusion is important to address going into 2022. While many consumers are slowly recovering, Household Pulse Survey data collected from June 9-21 from the Center of Budget and Policy stated that since late August 2020, 66 million adults – 28 percent of the country – reported it was somewhat difficult or very difficult to cover usual expenses in the past seven days.  

Keeping such household findings in mind credit unions, regardless of size, remain essential to helping such underserved members and communities achieve the financial stability they may have lost in the last year. Across the nation, credit unions are a vital spark of the CU movement. They meet the demands of their members to find distinctive financial recovery and planning programs in niche communities that can drive those communities forward to better days. 

As we communicate our message of financial inclusion and overall growth in the industry, it’s just as important to recognize and reinforce these hardworking institutions and their efforts to secure a healthy financial future for their communities.  

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