Number of U.S. banks at record low

|By:, SA News Editor

The number of U.S. banks has dropped to below 7,000 for the first time since records began in 1934, falling to 6,891 in Q3 from a peak of over 18,000.

More than 10,000 banks disappeared between 1984 and 2011 due to consolidation or failure, with 17% collapsing. Tighter regulation makes it much harder to open banks.

However, overall bank deposits and assets have increased.

"Seven thousand is still an awful lot of banks," says David Kemper, CEO of Missouri-based Commerce Bancshares, especially with brick-and-mortar branches becoming less profitable.

However, there are those who worry that the loss of community banks hurts the economy, as they are more likely to lend to small businesses than big institutions are.

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