In 2005, the National Cooperative Business Association lobbied for money to conduct research on the impact of cooperatives on the U.S. economy. In partnership with our members and the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC), and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, we have gathered quantitative data on the economic impact of cooperatives. Access the full report online.
Cooperative firms are fundamentally different from other forms of business organization. Assessment of economic impact solely in terms of the magnitude of business activity provides an incomplete perspective on the total impact of cooperatives. To initiate study on these more complex impacts, we prepared a series of eight discussion papers. They address methodological and empirical approaches for exploring deeper issues on the economic and social significance of cooperatives, and, in part, will form the basis for subsequent phases of this research project.
Here, we provide some excerpts from the report:
Distribution of Cooperatives
Every marker on the map below represents one of the nearly 30,000 U.S. cooperatives that operate at 73,000 places of business throughout the U.S. These cooperatives own more than $3 trillion in assets, and generate over $500 billion in revenue and $25 billion in wages. The estimates 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.
Economic Impact By Cooperative Type
The vast majority of cooperatives are owned by consumers, with most producer cooperatives existing in the agricultural sector. Overall, nearly 30,000 cooperatives in the United States account for more than $3 trillion in assets, over $500 billion total revenue, $25 billion in wages and benefits, and nearly one million jobs. The exact total number of individuals in the U.S. who are members of at least one cooperative is difficult to estimate because many individuals are members of multiple cooperatives.
Economic Impact by Cooperative Sector
Adding total revenue impacts across the five sectors that make up the aggregate Commercial Sales and Marketing sector yields a total aggregate revenue of $220 billion and 440,198 jobs. This is produced by 3,463 firms that operate at 5,695 different places of business (establishments). Total income—a measure of value added akin to GDP for the aggregate economy— is $37 billion and wage impact is $13 billion. Financial Services is the largest aggregate sector across all measures of impact. This sector includes credit unions, the Farm Credit System, mutual insurers, and a small number of very large financial institutions that provide loan funds to cooperative businesses (or that operate on a cooperative basis with member businesses). The sector with the largest number of firms—Social and Public Services—has the smallest overall impact across all measures. Overall, 29,284 cooperatives that operate at 72,993 places of business (establishments), collectively accounting for nearly $652 billion in revenue, $154 billion in income, more than $74 billion in wages, and more than two million jobs.