US ‘unbanked’ households at lowest since financial crisis

Oct 25 (Reuters) – The proportion of Americans who had no checking or savings account fell last year to its lowest level since the financial crisis, according to new research from a U.S. banking regulator released tuesday.

Only 4.5% of the 132.5 million U.S. households were considered “unbanked” in 2021, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The rate, which represents about 5.9 million U.S. households, is nearly a percentage point lower than the last survey conducted in 2019, and is the lowest level since the FDIC began conducting the survey in 2009.

The FDIC attributed the decline to socio-economic gains in US households, particularly increases in income and education.

Among recently banked households – those who had a bank account at the time of the survey but did not have one at some point in the previous 15 months – a third said that receiving a benefit government benefits like unemployment benefits or stimulus checks had contributed to their decision to open a bank account since March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Black and Hispanic families were more likely to be unbanked than their white counterparts at all income levels, the data shows.

More than 21% of respondents who did not have a bank account 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 used alternative financial products like payday loans or credit cards. mandates in the last 12 months.

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

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