Thinking of a Career as a Bank Teller? You Might Want to Reconsider.

A blog about business and economics.
March 26 2014 7:28 PM

One in Five Americans Hasn’t Been to the Bank in More Than a Year

Branches are shutting down across the country as online and mobile banking takes off.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Are physical banks going the way of the telephone booth?

Alison Griswold Alison Griswold

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

One in three people in the U.S. reports not visiting the bank for personal financial reasons in the past six months, while one in five hasn’t gone in over a year. That’s according to a new study from financial information aggregator Bankrate, which surveyed 1,003 people on their banking and finance habits earlier this month.


Here’s a chart showing the full breakdown of when people say they last visited a bank or credit union location, using data from the Bankrate report:


The low percentage of regular bank goers shouldn’t be too unexpected, considering the vast number of online and mobile banking options available today. Why schlep to your local teller when you can deposit a check from a smartphone or transfer funds between accounts with a few clicks?

In equally unshocking news, the Wall Street Journal reported in January that branch closures in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 1,487 in 2013. Branches themselves have been declining steadily since 2009, with their numbers shrinking to 96,339 last year.

In light of all that, what might be most surprising is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics isn’t predicting dramatic losses in employment for bank tellers over the next decade. Rather, the BLS projects that employment among bank tellers will remain relatively flat in the years leading up to 2022.

That prediction sure seems optimistic based on the grim outlook for bank branches and low percentages of frequent bank goers. It’s possible that the forecast, which is for the 10-year period between 2012 and 2022, was created before online and mobile banking really began to take off and threaten physical locations.

At any rate, it’s looking like workers shouldn’t put all their stock in a career as a bank teller. In 10 years, there might not be too many counters left to work behind.



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