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Impact on U.S. Economy

Cooperatives and the U.S. Economy

For the complete report, see Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives

In 2006, the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, with grant funding support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and matching support from the National Cooperative Business Association and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, conducted a census of cooperative business in the U.S. economy. Nearly 30,000 cooperatives operate at 73,000 places of business throughout the U.S. These cooperatives own over $3 trillion in assets, generating over $500 billion in revenue and over $25 billion in wages.

The impact of this economic activity ripples out into the broader economy as spending by the co-op, and by those that receive its wages and income, generate revenue and income in other businesses. It is estimated that cooperatives account for nearly $654 billion in revenue, over two million jobs, $75 billion in wages and benefits paid, and a total of $133.5 billion in value-added income.

Americans hold 350 million memberships in cooperatives; nearly 340 million of which are in consumer cooperatives. Patronage refunds and dividends distributed to members generate an estimated $79 billion in total impact.

Table 1: Economic Impact of U.S. Cooperatives: Aggregate Impacts by Sector [1]
Sector Revenue Income Wages   Employment Firms Establishments
  (million dollars)   (jobs)  
Commercial Sales and Marketing 201,207 37,737 13,810   422,505 3,463 5,695
Social and Public Services 7,525 2,213 1,690   424,505 11,311 11,311
Financial Services 394,363 100,661 51,176   1,133,353 9,964 50,330
Utilities 49,808 13,392 8,292   162,873 4,546 5,657
Total 652,903 154,002 74,969   2,143,236 29,284 72,993
[1] Analysis does not include housing cooperatives.