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

Roughly 4.5% of U.S. households – or 5.nine million – didn’t have a checking or savings business relationship with a depository financial institution or credit union in 2021, a record low, according to the Federal Eolith Insurance Corporation’due south most recent survey of unbanked and underbanked households.

Roughly 45% of households that received a stimulus payment, jobless benefits or other government assistance after the showtime 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 way to bring more Americans into the banking system and volition continue to play an important role in advancing economical inclusion for all Americans,” FDIC acting 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 weather the economic fallout from the COVID-19 health crisis.

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The FDIC initiated an educational campaign to go more Americans to open an account to enable the directly eolith of those funds. And banks such as Capital One and Ally Financial ended  overdraft and other fees that have been a primal bulwark to some Americans accessing the cyberbanking organisation.

What does it mean to be unbanked?

A household is deemed unbanked when no one in the home has an business relationship with a bank or credit union. That share of households has dropped by well-nigh half since 2009. And since 2011, when 8% of U.S. households were unbanked, the highest since the start of the survey, and the tape low reached in 2021, roughly half of the drop was due to a shift in the financial circumstances of American households the FDIC says.

Who are the underbanked?


Those who have a checking or savings account, but too apply fiscal alternatives like bank check cashing services are considered underbanked. The underbanked represented 14% of U.S. households, or 18.7 million, last year.

Why are people unbanked or underbanked?

Many of those who are unbanked say they can’t afford to accept an account considering of the fees for insufficient funds and overdrafts that are tacked on when account balances fall short. Roughly 29% said fees or non having the required minimum balance were the primary 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 amongst households that included those who were working age and disabled, lower income, included a unmarried female parent, or were Black or Hispanic. Among white households for instance, 2% didn’t have a depository financial institution account last year as compared to 11% and 9% of their Black and Hispanic counterparts.

Meanwhile, almost 15% of households with a working age member who had a disability were unbanked compared to most four% of other households. And  near xvi% of households with a single mother were unbanked as compared to about 2% of married couples who lacked an account.

 “These gaps attest in that location’south still a lot of opportunity to expand participation beyond the population in the banking system,” Keith Ernst, Acquaintance Director of Consumer Inquiry and Test Analytics at the FDIC, said during a media call about the written report.

Will the number of unbanked rise if the U.Due south. has a recession?

Perchance.

“During the concluding recession unbanked rates did indeed go up,” Karyen Chu, primary of the Banking Inquiry Department at the Center for Financial Inquiry, said during the call.

Additionally, final year, homes where the head of household was out of work were nearly five times more probable to not take a bank account equally compared to those where the household caput 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

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2022/10/25/unbanked-record-low-america-fdic/10595677002/