As economy swoons, more people are joining credit unions

With all of the troubles taking place in the financial industry these days, one sector that appears to have avoided the mess of subprime and other shaky loans is credit unions — and consumers are noticing.

Among Washington state’s 129 nonprofit credit unions, 62,782 people opened new accounts between December 2007 and June 2008, according to the National Credit Union Administration — a 167 percent jump compared to the same period last year.

Membership also is increasing at some local credit unions. Between June 2007 and June 2008, Whatcom Educational Credit Union increased its membership by 8.6 percent, to 54,604. Last month, WECU landed 790 new members — a record month for the organization. Bellingham-based Industrial Credit Union has seen its membership rise by more than 3,000 since June 2005 and recently opened a new branch in Barkley Village.

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