This report finds that banking deserts — neighborhoods with no bank branches nearby — across U.S. communities are on the rise. From 2019 to 2023, the total number of bank branches declined by 5.6 percent, the number of banking deserts increased by 217, and the number of Americans living in banking deserts grew by 760,000. The report also examines how financial institutions in some communities are working to address the decline of retail bank branches.

Two states in our region, Pennsylvania (-430 branches) and New Jersey (-342), were among the top five states that experienced the largest net losses in bank branches during this time. California topped the list, losing 640 bank branches, and New York lost the second-most at 457 branches.

While the bulk of branch losses nationwide occurred in middle- and upper-income communities, the percent of branches lost in low- and moderate-income areas (5.9 percent) outpaced the percent lost in higher-income communities (5.4 percent). Majority-Black areas gained banking deserts at a significantly faster rate (10.1 percent) than the national rate of change (6.4 percent).

Despite the overall trend toward online banking, older, disabled, and lower-income communities often rely on in-person banking. For people facing other barriers to banking services, having no bank branches nearby could limit opportunities to foster financial health and build wealth.

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