Banking at a Glance

  • Banking, the largest sector within the financial services industry, includes all depository institutions, from commercial banks and thrifts (savings and loan associations and savings banks) to credit unions.
  • The banking industry employed about 1.7 million people in 2011, including workers at commercial banks (1.3 million), savings institutions (182,000) and credit unions (242,000).
  • In July 2010 Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, sweeping legislation that changed the way that financial services companies operate in the U.S. and how they serve their customers. In 2012 regulators were continuing to work out many of the details as to how the law will be carried out and enforced.
  • The act established a Financial Stability Oversight Council, chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury, charged with identifying threats to the financial stability of the United States.
  • The Dodd-Frank Act phased out the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) and shifted its responsibilities to other federal agencies. Regulation of federal thrift institutions was moved to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The OTS’s responsibilities regarding state savings institutions were moved to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and its powers regarding thrift holding companies were moved to the Federal Reserve.
  • The FDIC, an independent agency within the federal government, protects against the loss of deposits if an FDIC-insured commercial bank or savings association fails.  In 2010, 157 banks with $92.1 billion in assets failed. In 2011, 92 banks with $34.9 billion in assets failed; most were acquired by other institutions.
  • Financial assets of bank institutions totaled $14.6 trillion in 2011, with savings banks and commercial banks accounting for 80 percent of assets. Foreign banks with U.S. offices accounted for 14 percent. Credit unions accounted for 6 percent.
  • Assets of commercial banks totaled $12.6 trillion in 2011. 514 banks with assets of $1 billion or more accounted for $11.5 trillion in assets.
  • The number of banks is shrinking. There were 6,278 commercial banks in 2011, down from 7,267 in 2007. There were 1,067 federally insured thrifts in 2011, down from 1,250 in 2007. There were 7,094 credit unions in 2011, down from 7,806 in 2007.