Unbanked US households hit lowest level since financial crisis

25 October (Reuters) – The proportion of Americans who do not have a checking or savings account has fallen to its lowest level since the financial crisis over the past year, according to a new study by a US banking regulator released on Tuesday.

Just 4.5% of 132.5 million U.S. households were considered “unbanked” in 2021, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) data. That rate, which represents approximately 5.9 million U.S. households, is almost a full percentage point lower than the last survey in 2019 and is the lowest since the FDIC began surveying in 2009.

The FDIC attributed the decline to socioeconomic gains in US households, particularly gains in income and education.

Among recently banked households — those who had a bank account at the time the survey was conducted but had not at some point in the previous 15 months — a third said receiving a government benefit such as unemployment benefit or stimulus -Checks has contributed to their decision to open a bank account since March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

More than 21% of unbanked respondents said they did not have enough money to meet minimum balance requirements, while 13.2% cited distrust of banks as the main reason for not having 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 such as payday loans or money orders over the past 12 months.

Reporting by Hannah Lang in Washington; Editing by Lananh Nguyen in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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