Steven Deller, Ann Hoyt, Brent Hueth, Reka Sundaram-Stukel
University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
The cooperative ownership model is used in a wide variety of contexts in the United States, ranging from the production and distribution of energy to delivery of home health care services for the elderly. Although cooperative businesses have been responsible for many market innovations and corrections of market imperfections, little is known about their impact as an economic sector. Until this project, no comprehensive set of national-level statistics had been compiled about U.S. cooperative businesses, their importance to the U.S. economy, or their impact on the lives and businesses of American citizens. This report describes and quantifies the magnitude of economic activity accounted for by U.S. cooperative businesses. It describes the legal and economic characteristics that were used to define cooperative firms; methods used to measure cooperative activity across all sectors of the US economy; and approaches developed to collect appropriate data. Finally, it provides a census of cooperatives, summarizes the extent of their activity by economic sector, and measures their impact on aggregate income and employment.