National recognition and organization allowed for a surge in the formation of new credit unions. Between 1936 and 1941 the number of credit unions nearly doubled, increasing to almost 10,000. World War II, however, brought a halt to growth, and government anti-inflationary regulations resulted in the liquidation of many small credit unions. On balance, the war hurt the movement more than the Great Depression had.
Post-war prosperity created a second surge of credit union growth. The number of credit unions rose to 23,000 with 19 million members by 1967.
In 1970, federal legislation created the National Credit Union Administration, which is the independent supervisory agency for all federal credit unions, and established the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, providing federal deposit insurance for credit union depositors. This fund propelled tremendous share growth within the movement. Various federal laws passed in the 1970s allowed credit unions to offer more services, including share certificates, share draft accounts, 30-year home mortgages, credit cards, and other forms of electronic funds transfers.
Like in every other industry, the 1980s was an era of deregulation and consolidation. Though deregulation allowed credit unions to offer more services to their members, it also placed a lot of pressure on smaller credit unions. Many couldn’t afford to offer the variety of services now permitted, and many merged.
This is a trend that has continued. But, it is important to note that while the number of credit unions is declining, more and more members are enjoying the benefits of ownership.
For more information about other periods of credit union history, click on the links below