NBC News @NBCNews The leading source of global news and info for more than 75 years. Jun. 17, 2019 1 min read

The last bank branch in Itta Bena, Mississippi — population 1,828 and likely declining — closed in 2015.

And it could hardly have happened to a more distressed community. The poverty rate sat at around 40%. Median household income was $21,792.  https://nbcnews.to/2XeDgCd  (1/8)

Banks are a key lever in the American economy. Yet branches are closing at a rapid pace, with more than 3,800 shuttering since 2017.  http://nbcnews.to/2XeDgCd  (2/8)

When banks went on their closing spree, they did so in ways that created 86 new banking deserts. In rural areas, these are population clusters where no bank exists within 10 miles.  http://nbcnews.to/2XeDgCd  (3/8)

And there are consequences when a bank branch closes.

Researchers have found more people with no bank accounts at all in places with less access to local bank branches. Lending also tends to decline in areas where bank branches have closed, according to an MIT study. (4/8)

From the front stoop of his building on the edge of Itta Bena, Shawn Robinson has a view that he often finds more interesting than what's on TV.

Robinson can see people come and go from the town's only no-fee or low-fee ATM.  http://nbcnews.to/2XeDgCd  (5/8)

What Robinson is watching isn’t simply the most active spot at the center of a small, struggling town.

He has an unavoidable view of an economic problem so fundamental that even those experiencing its effects may not recognize its cause.  http://nbcnews.to/2XeDgCd  (6/8)

In February, Federal Reserve Chairman Powell visited Mississippi Valley State University’s campus at the edge of Itta Bena.

“Access to safe and affordable financial services is vital, especially among families with limited wealth,” Powell said during his visit. (7/8)

But money remains hard to come by in Itta Bena.

“You can’t do much without money, just like anywhere else,” Robinson said.  http://nbcnews.to/2XeDgCd  (8/8) #NBCNewsThreads

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