PORTLAND, Maine (2/25/09)--When economic times get tough, people often turn to cooperatives, including credit unions, according to an article in the Portland Press Herald Monday. In addition to credit unions, cooperatives also can include local grocers and food-buying clubs, and cooperatives to provide housing or to provide electricity, the article said. When difficult economic conditions arrive, consumers are seeking security and the ability to combine resources for savings--whether it is financial or otherwise, John Murphy, president/CEO of the Maine Credit Union League, told the newspaper. This trend has been evident in other economic downturns such as the 1980s and 1990s when consumers turned to credit unions for safety, security, local ownership and control--factors that provided people with a level of comfort, he added. Maine credit unions experienced 7.7% asset growth last year, compared with 6% the year before, the paper said. Also, credit union loans rose 5.1%--up from 4% the previous year. Savings grew 6%--down from 6.5%. Considering the troubled economic conditions, 2008 was a very good year for credit union growth in Maine, Murphy told the paper.