Stocksak: The lowest level of ‘unbanked’ households in the United States since the financial crisis

© Stocksak. FILE PHOTO – People use ATMs in a Chase Bank branch located in Manhattan, New York City. May 20, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Hannah Lang

(Stocksak). – According to a new study released Tuesday by a U.S. bank regulator, the share of Americans without a savings or checking account fell last year to its lowest level since the financial crises.

Just 4.5% of 132.5 million U.S. households were considered “unbanked” in 2021, data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) show. This rate, which covers approximately 5.9million households in the U.S., is nearly a full percentage point lower that when the survey was last done in 2019, and the lowest recorded level since 2009, the FDIC began conducting this survey.

FDIC attributed the decrease to socioeconomic gains in U.S. households, notably increases in education and income.

Among recently banked households — those who had a bank account when the survey was conducted but did not at some point in the 15 months before — one-third reported that receiving a government benefit payment like unemployment benefits or stimulus checks contributed to their decision to open a bank account since March 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data showed that Hispanic and Black families were more likely than their White counterparts to be unbanked at all income levels.

Survey respondents who did not have bank accounts claimed that they didn’t make enough money to meet the minimum balance requirements. 13.2% of respondents cited distrust of banks as the main reason they did not have an account.

Another 14.1% of households were considered “underbanked” in 2021, meaning they had traditional bank accounts but also relied on alternative financial products like payday loans or money orders in the last 12 months. 

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