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Credit union branch numbers up in 50 of U.S.'s top metro areas: Report

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A new study pegs the South as one of the fastest growing markets for credit union branching as CUs step in to fill a gap left by bank branch closures.

That’s according to a new report from DepositAccounts.com, a partner of LendingTree. The study noted that in 93 of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas, the number of bank branches declined between 2008 and 2018. That’s in line with recent data from the Federal Reserve that found more than half of all U.S. counties lost bank branches between 2012 and 2017.

In light of that, credit unions are stepping up to the plate.

The DepositAccounts study showed CUs growing real estate holdings in a variety of regions but in particular across the South, with Florida home to four of the top 10 markets where credit unions are expanding their branch presence. Fort Myers in particular saw the number of credit union facilities soar by 59% between 2014 and 2019, while Daytona Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., both saw a 28% increase.

Both Daytona Beach and Melbourne, Fla., previously were two of ten metropolitan areas that lost the most bank branches between 2008 to 2019. Now, both cities are witnessing a boon of credit union branch openings.

Other locations on the list included Charleston, Nashville, Las Vegas and El Paso.

Still, though CUs have moved into communities following a bank's closure, the Fed noted that some survey participants suggested that credit unions were not fully meeting consumer needs as well as a bank.

But it’s not all good news. While CUs saw their footprint increase in 50 of the top 100 U.S. metro areas analyzed, the number of branches decreased in 45 areas and saw no change in five.

The nation’s nine largest metro areas have all seen branch declines in the last five years, while locations such as Augusta, Ga., lost about 25% of CU branches in that time. Scranton, Pa., and McAllen, Texas, have also both saw a 20% decline in branch locations during the same period.

The methodology of the study compared the difference in branch addresses from June 2019 call report data to June 2014 call report data. Changes were examined in the total number of credit union branches in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Population data was pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau’s July 2018 American Community Survey.

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