In May 2018, an economic impact survey was conducted by MCDC in coordination with Montana State University (MSU). One hundred cooperative firms responded to the survey individually or through their industry associations. Below is a summary of results from that survey:
Economic Impact of a Sample of Montana Cooperatives
October 31, 2018
By George W. Haynes, Ph.D.
Professor and Extension Economist
Montana State University
Cooperatives are integral component of the Montana economy. Based on a study by the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Cooperatives in 2009 there were 209 cooperatives operating in Montana. By 2018 when this study was conducted, the number of cooperative establishments had dropped to 151, which were those surveyed for this report. This study is based on data compiled in 2017 by 100 cooperative firms that responded to the survey individually or through their industry associations. These co-ops represent agricultural marketing, services and supply (17); credit unions (51); utilities (28); and, other (4).
This sample of cooperatives generated $1.835 billion in direct sales, more than 4,000 jobs, and wages of $344 million (Table 1). This represents approximately 1.3% of total revenue and 0.9% of jobs in Montana. Total membership in these cooperatives exceeds 659,000, which undoubtedly overestimates the actual number of discrete individuals since those living in Montana’s smallest rural communities often belong to more than one cooperative.
Fifty-five percent of direct revenue from this sample of cooperatives was generated by agricultural cooperatives; utility coops contributed 31% and credit unions contributed 12% (Figure 1).
Figure 1 Distribution of Total Direct Revenue by Cooperative Type
More than 30% of cooperative jobs were created by credit unions, with agricultural co-ops creating 28% and utility co-ops creating 26%. Utility cooperatives accounted for 36% of total wages paid to cooperative employees, with credit unions contributing 23%. The “Other” category includes the CHS refinery in Laurel , which explains why this group accounted for the last 20% of total wages paid. Average wages and benefits, vary by type of cooperative (Figure 2). The highest average wages, including benefits, were paid by the utility cooperatives (over $120,000); while the lowest average wages and benefits were paid in agricultural cooperatives (over $68,000).