US bank branches have declined rapidly in recent years

Photo of US bank branches have declined rapidly in recent years
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The US is losing bank branches fast. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of full-service bank branches fell from almost 95,000 to just over 83,000, according to a Quartz analysis of data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). That is a loss of 12% of bank branches across the country.

With more personal and small business finance taking place online, in many places the demand for bank branches is in decline. There are 23 counties in the US that have lost more than 50 bank branches since 2010. Cook County, Illinois, which includes the city of Chicago, alone lost over 260 branches.

Not every place in the US is losing bank branches. Out of the US’s approximately 3,200 counties, about 9% of them have gained branches since 2010. The majority of these are small counties that gained only one or two branches. They are mostly located in the central US, in areas where there has been an oil and gas boom.

There were also four counties that gained more than 10 branches since 2010. The county with the largest gain was Kings County, New York, which is made up of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It went from 344 branches in 2010 to 377 this year. It was followed by Santa Clara County, California, which includes San Jose; St. Louis County, Missouri, made up of many of the suburbs of the city of St. Louis; and Williamson County, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville.

The boost in Brooklyn bank branches makes sense. The area has a fast-growing economy, and an increasingly young and well-to-do population. Santa Clara is already one of the wealthiest counties in the US, and incomes are growing swiftly due to the region’s tech boom. Williamson County is also among the richest in the US, and the county’s population has grown by 50% since 2005. The bank-branch bump in St. Louis County is more of a surprise, given that it is not particularly prosperous and its population has declined since 2000. Most of the increase in St. Louis has been a result of two regional banks, Great Southern Bank and Simmons Bank, adding branches in the county at a pace not seen almost anywhere else in the country.

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