Importance of Cooperatives

A cooperative is a member-owned and controlled business that operates for the mutual benefit of its members. Cooperatives operate across all sectors of the US economy and include agriculture, food distribution and retailing, childcare, credit unions, purchasing, worker-owned, housing, healthcare, energy and telecommunications cooperatives. Cooperatives promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people and are a major economic force in developed countries and a powerful business model in developing ones. Worldwide, approximately 1 billion people are members of cooperatives. The economic activity of the largest 300 cooperatives in the world equals the 10th largest national economy.

Did You Know…

  • More than 29,000 cooperatives operate in every sector of the economy and in every congressional district; Americans hold over 350 million co-op memberships.
  • U.S. cooperatives generate 2 million jobs and make a substantial contribution to the U.S. economy with annual sales of $652 billion and possessing assets of $3 trillion.
  • The majority of our country's 2 million farmers are members of the nearly 3,000 farmer-owned cooperatives. They provide over 250 thousand jobs and annual wages of over $8 billion.
  • Over 7,500 credit unions provide financial services to 91 million U.S. consumers.
  • More than 900 rural electric co-ops deliver electricity to more than 42 million people in 47 states. This makes up 42 percent of the nation's electric distribution lines and covers 75 percent of our country's land mass.
  • Approximately 233 million people are served by insurance companies owned by or closely affiliated with co-ops.
  • Food co-ops have been innovators in the areas of unit pricing, consumer protection, organic and bulk foods and nutritional labeling.
  • More than 50,000 families in the U.S. use cooperative day care centers, giving co-ops a crucial role in the care of our children. 
  • About 1.2 million rural Americans in 31 states are served by the 260 telephone cooperatives. 
  • In the U.S., more than 1.2 million families of all income levels live in homes owned and operated through cooperative associations. 

Support your local cooperatives today!