The U.S. unemployment rate ticked up slightly in the last month of 2018, from 3.7% in October and November to 3.9% in December. Still, that was down from 4.4% one year earlier and is the lowest year-end rate since 1969. For their part, credit unions employed 305,312 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees as of Dec. 31, 2018, a 4.3% increase from last year-end. Growth in FTE employees — calculated as 100% of an institution’s full-time employees plus 50% of its part-time employees — kept pace with the industry’s 4.4% year-over-year membership growth; as such, the number of members per employee in the industry held steady at 385.
In 2018, credit union employees earned a combined $22.9 billion in salaries and benefits. That’s up 7.6% year-over-year. To retain top talent, credit unions spent on average $4.2 million on salaries and benefits. The growth dynamic between total compensation and FTEs resulted in a $2,319 increase in average compensation per employee, which rose from $72,829 at year-end 2017 to $75,148 at year-end 2018. Salary and benefits are typically a credit union’s largest expenditure. At the end of 2018, compensation accounted for 50.9% of total non-interest expenses for the industry.
As the number of employees increases, employee efficiency also rises. Total revenue per salary and benefits, a productivity metric that measures how much revenue a credit union generates per dollar spent on employee compensation, increased 15 cents yearover-year to $3.24 as of Dec. 31, 2018. Total income per employee expanded 8.2% year-over-over from $225,141 in the fourth quarter of 2017 to $243,700 in the fourth quarter of 2018.
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