New research from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) shows that the number of U.S. households without a bank account is declining. Just 7 percent of U.S. households were unbanked in 2015, down from 8.2 percent in 2011, according to the National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households.
Declines were even greater among some demographic groups. The rate of unbanked Black and Latino households fell about 10 percent, and very low income households earning less than $15,000 and households headed by individuals with no college education also experienced significant declines.
Still, banking rates among low-income, less educated, younger, Black, Hispanic, and working-age disabled households are disproportionately low. Learn more about financial wellness for people with disabilities and their families here.
The results highlight the importance of emergency savings and the critical role of banks and credit unions in cushioning Americans from financial emergencies. Of the surveyed households, 56.3 percent saved money in the last year. But unbanked households save for unexpected expenses at a much lower rate, 20.2 percent compared to 55.2 percent of underbanked households and 60 percent of fully banked households.
Of the about one in five unbanked households that reported saving for emergencies in the last year, a vast majority (67.8 percent) kept those savings in the home, or with family and friends. Fully banked households (88.2 percent) are far more likely to keep their emergency savings in a bank account, where the funds are guaranteed against lost, may generate earnings, and may be used for other purposes such as securing credit. Learn more about how America Saves promotes emergency savings here.
Cited reasons for not having a bank account included not having enough money, privacy and trust concerns, and high or unpredictable fees.
For the first time, the FDIC survey asked respondents a question about the perception of banks’ interest in serving households like theirs. Unbanked households were substantially less likely to perceive that banks were interested in serving households like theirs, and was similar among households that have had an account and that have never had an account.
Visit FDIC’s economicinclusion.gov to explore survey results and generate custom tables.