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U.S. Bank is laying off hundreds of workers due to ‘changing business needs’

Happy holidays: US Bank is laying off 700 of its employees.

Happy holidays: US Bank is laying off 700 of its employees. Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Just in time for the holiday season, U.S. Bank is laying off around 700 employees.

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported that the Minneapolis company has about 13,000 employees in the state and about 74,000 companywide, and this cut would represent about 1 percent of its workforce.

The regional bank cryptically cited “changing business needs” as its reason for kicking 700 people to the curb. Spokesperson Rebekah Fawcett said via email that the company places “a high priority” on treating people respectfully “in these situations,” and that severance and outplacement assistance will be provided. She would not say how many people in Minnesota will number among the newly unemployed.

“We’re not breaking the number out by individual markets or business areas, out of respect for our affected employees,” she said. “They are our first priority.”

Chuck Fitzer, a tax process director at U.S. Bank’s Nicollet Mall headquarters, told the Pioneer Press he’d been among those who got the boot. That he “knew something was coming down” when the company had brought some efficiency experts into his office a couple of months back.

It’s not that U.S. Bank is struggling. Fawcett says the company added close to 2,000 jobs last year, and it remains the largest bank in Minnesota by deposits, which amount to around $358 billion.

But a lot of people in the know have probably suspected something was “coming down” for a while. The world of banking is changing. Thanks to smartphones and computers, in-person banking is rapidly becoming a relic of the previous generation.

If you’re in the banking industry right now, your future is largely dependent on how easily your job could be done by a computer. Citi Global Perspectives and Solutions, a leading global bank, published a report on the subject a few years ago, calling the inevitable culling the “Uber moment” of banking. It predicted banks would see a 30 percent reduction in staff between 2015 and 2025.

If what we’re seeing now is any indication, Citi may be right. U.S. Bank’s biggest rival, Wells Fargo, announced last month that it would be cutting 10,000 jobs over the next three years -- about 10 percent of its workforce.