With a growth rate of nearly 3 percent, the combined membership of Maine’s 56 credit unions reached a record of over 686,000 members in 2017, according to year-end statistics released by the Maine Credit Union League.

The popularity and growth of credit unions in Maine showed no signs of weakening last year, the league said. Membership growth was particularly strong among millennials, it said, a sign that younger adults are embracing credit unions as an alternative to other financial institutions.

“It’s gratifying to see more millennials turning to credit unions for financial services, with growth in credit union membership among the 18- to 25-year-old demographic increasing by more than 10 percent over the past three years,” league President Todd Mason said in a news release.

Credit unions are nonprofits, and their cooperative structure, combined with modern technology and the convenience of the largest surcharge-free ATM network in Maine, is clearly attracting young people, he said.

For the 12-month period ending Dec. 31, combined assets at Maine credit unions grew by more than $265 million to $7.55 billion, the league said. Lending at Maine credit unions grew by $355 million, nearly 7 percent, to $5.5 billion.

The penetration of Maine credit unions in real estate lending grew to 18.3 percent, the highest in the nation by two times the next-closest state, according to the league. Many Maine credit unions also saw strong growth in business lending and provided capital to a number of small businesses across the state.

Despite strong growth in the stock market, savings held by Maine credit unions increased by close to $190 million in 2017 and now total $6.4 billion. Total credit union membership in Maine continued to close in on 700,000 members, it said, with membership now totaling 686,267.

Maine has the nation’s fifth-highest credit union membership rate, with roughly 53 percent of the state’s population belonging to a credit union.

“The year-end statistics are indicative of what we are hearing from our credit unions across Maine – strong lending and robust membership growth,” Mason said. “We are pleased that existing credit union members continue to increase their relationship with their local credit union, including strong growth in mortgages, auto lending and other loan products, and that more Maine consumers continue to become credit union members.”

Formed in 1938, the Maine Credit Union League is the statewide trade association for Maine’s 56 credit unions, providing a variety of services and products to assist credit unions in meeting the needs of their members.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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