Chief executive Bob McClosky at Market USA Federal Credit Union’s Laurel branch. (Evy Mages/For Capital Business)

Regulators have cleared Laurel-based Market USA Federal Credit Union to acquire National Capital Federal Credit Union of Landover, marking the second such merger in the Washington area in less than a month.

Market USA FCU, which serves multiple groups in the area, will boast $99 million in assets and 21,944 members once the deal closes at the end of the month. Employees from both institutions will stay on, including chief executive Joann Talbot, who will become vice president of administration, said Market USA FCU chief executive Robert McClosky.

National Capital FCU, which serves the credit union community in the Washington area, began searching for a merger partner a year ago. The credit union had posted eight consecutive quarterly losses before turning a profit of $1,225 for the three months ending March.

“It’s become more difficult for small credit unions to compete,” she said. “We didn’t feel it was fair to our members to keep cutting staff and instituting new fees.”

Talbot said Market USA FCU, one of several credit unions under consideration, presented the best opportunity to partner with a well-capitalized, stable organization. Members of National Capital FCU will now have access to a wider selection of checking accounts and certificates of deposits as well as first mortgage loans.

The takeover is Market USA FCU’s third in eight years. The credit union, established in 1953 to serve Giant Food workers, absorbed Mauldin, S.C.-based BI-LO Credit Association in 2003 to serve all Ahold employees. In June 2010, Market USA FCU brought Epworth Federal Credit Union of Reisterstown, Md., into the fold, extending its services to members and employees of Methodist organizations in the Washington region.

“We’re trying to grow and get some economies of scale,” McClosky said. Greater scale, he said, could allow Market USA FCU to, for example, “increase [loan] volumes without significantly adding to expenses.”

Market USA FCU is in no rush to roll up another credit union, but McClosky said it would consider the right opportunity.

Analysts expect further consolidation among credit unions as net interest margins — the difference between what it earns on loans and pays on deposits — continue to decline amid tepid loan demand. Some executives say higher compliance costs associated with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act also may push more institutions into each other’s arms.

Mortgage defaults spurred much of the increase in mergers and liquidations witnessed in the wake of the downturn. According to the Credit Union National Association, regulators forced 37 credit unions to liquidate or merge in 2010, compared with 13 in 2007. Voluntary mergers were on the decline last year, but they too are starting to pick up.

Just last month, Fairfax-based Apple Federal Credit Union merged with Synergy One Federal Credit Union of Manassas to create a $1.53 billion institution. The move stemmed from Synergy One FCU’s losses on home equity lines that members could not repay.