The Federal Reserve Board has released Perspectives from Main Street: Bank Branch Access in Rural Communities, a report that examines how rural consumers and small businesses use bank branches and how their communities have been affected by branch closures.
Of the counties analyzed in the report, more than half lost bank branches between 2012 and 2017, with some predominantly rural counties experiencing considerable declines. The deeply affected rural counties tended to be less economically well off, have residents with lower levels of education, and have a greater proportion of minority residents relative to other rural counties.
Much of the information in the report was gathered at listening sessions hosted by Federal Reserve Banks across the country between July 2018 and January 2019. The consumers, small business owners, and local government officials who participated in the sessions said that while they have found local or technological substitutes for many but not all services, the alternatives are generally more costly and less convenient.