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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 part to people opening accounts to receive financial aid during the pandemic, a new report says.

Roughly 4.5% of U.S. households – or v.9 million – didn’t have a checking or savings account with a banking concern or credit wedlock in 2021, a tape low, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s nigh recent survey of unbanked and underbanked households.

Roughly 45% of households that received a stimulus payment, jobless benefits or other government assistance after the starting time of the pandemic in March, 2020 said those funds helped compel them to open an business relationship, according to the biennial study which has been conducted since 2009.

“Prophylactic and affordable bank accounts provide a way to bring more than Americans into the cyberbanking system and will go along to play an important part 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 land weather condition the economic fallout from the COVID-19 health crisis.

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The FDIC initiated an educational campaign to become more Americans to open an account to enable the direct eolith of those funds. And banks such as Majuscule I and Marry Financial ended  overdraft and other fees that have been a key barrier to some Americans accessing the banking organization.

What does it mean to exist unbanked?

A household is deemed unbanked when no i in the home has an business relationship with a bank or credit marriage. That share of households has dropped by nearly one-half since 2009. And since 2011, when 8% of U.Due south. households were unbanked, the highest since the first of the survey, and the record low reached in 2021, roughly one-half of the drib 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 business relationship, simply also apply financial alternatives like check cashing services are considered underbanked. The underbanked represented xiv% of U.Southward. households, or xviii.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 because of the fees for insufficient funds and overdrafts that are tacked on when account balances fall curt. Roughly 29% said fees or not having the required minimum residue were the primary reasons they didn’t have a checking or savings business relationship, equally 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 single mother, or were Black or Hispanic. Among white households for case, 2% didn’t have a bank business relationship concluding yr as compared to 11% and 9% of their Black and Hispanic counterparts.

Meanwhile, nearly 15% of households with a working age member who had a inability were unbanked compared to almost 4% of other households. And  most xvi% of households with a unmarried mother were unbanked every bit compared to well-nigh ii% of married couples who lacked an account.

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

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


“During the last recession unbanked rates did indeed get up,” Karyen Chu, main of the Banking Inquiry Section at the Middle for Fiscal Research, said during the call.

Additionally, last year, homes where the head of household was out of work were nearly five times more likely to not have a bank account as compared to those where the household head was employed.

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“To the extent that income goes downwards … that has more often than not been associated with increases in unbanked rates,’’ Chu said.

Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones