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The number of American households that were unbanked last year dropped to its lowest level since 2009, a dip due in part to people opening accounts to receive financial assistance during the pandemic, a new report says.

Roughly 4.5% of U.Due south. households – or 5.ix million – didn’t have a checking or savings account with a bank or credit union in 2021, a record low, co-ordinate to the Federal Eolith Insurance Corporation’due south near recent survey of unbanked and underbanked households.

Roughly 45% of households that received a stimulus payment, jobless benefits or other regime aid subsequently the outset of the pandemic in March, 2020 said those funds helped compel them to open an business relationship, according to the biennial report which has been conducted since 2009.

“Safe and affordable bank accounts provide a fashion to bring more than Americans into the banking system and will continue to play an important part in advancing economic inclusion for all Americans,” FDIC interim chairman Martin J. Gruenberg said in a statement.

A lack of banking options delayed some households from getting federal payments aimed at helping the country conditions the economic fallout from the COVID-xix health crisis.

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The FDIC initiated an educational entrada to go more Americans to open up an business relationship to enable the direct deposit of those funds. And banks such as Uppercase One and Ally Financial ended  overdraft and other fees that take been a key barrier to some Americans accessing the banking system.

What does information technology mean to be unbanked?

A household is deemed unbanked when no i in the dwelling has an business relationship with a bank or credit marriage. That share of households has dropped by nearly half since 2009. And since 2011, when 8% of U.S. households were unbanked, the highest since the start of the survey, and the record low reached in 2021, roughly half of the drop was due to a shift in the fiscal circumstances of American households the FDIC says.

Who are the underbanked?

A bank manager helps a woman open up a new account.

Those who have a checking or savings account, but also utilize fiscal alternatives like check cashing services are considered underbanked. The underbanked represented fourteen% of U.S. households, or xviii.7 1000000, last year.

Why are people unbanked or underbanked?

Many of those who are unbanked say they tin’t beget to take an account considering of the fees for insufficient funds and overdrafts that are tacked on when account balances fall brusk. Roughly 29% said fees or non having the required minimum balance were the main reasons they didn’t have a checking or savings account, every bit compared to 38% who cited those obstacles in 2019.

Are some groups more likely to be unbanked?

The numbers of the unbanked were greater among households that included those who were working age and disabled, lower income, included a single mother, or were Black or Hispanic. Amongst white households for instance, two% didn’t have a banking company account last twelvemonth as compared to 11% and 9% of their Black and Hispanic counterparts.

Meanwhile, nearly fifteen% of households with a working age fellow member who had a disability were unbanked compared to almost 4% of other households. And  nigh sixteen% of households with a single mother were unbanked as compared to about two% of married couples who lacked an account.

 “These gaps attest there’s all the same a lot of opportunity to expand participation across the population in the banking arrangement,” Keith Ernst, Associate Director of Consumer Enquiry and Test Analytics at the FDIC, said during a media call about the report.

Will the number of unbanked ascent if the U.S. has a recession?


“During the concluding recession unbanked rates did indeed go upwards,” Karyen Chu, chief of the Banking Inquiry Section at the Center for Financial Enquiry, said during the call.

Additionally, concluding year, homes where the caput of household was out of work were nearly five times more probable to non have a bank account as compared to those where the household head was employed.

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“To the extent that income goes down … that has generally been associated with increases in unbanked rates,’’ Chu said.

Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones


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