2013 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households – Summary

2013 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households

In June 2013, the FDIC sponsored the third National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households to collect data on the number of U.S. households that are unbanked and underbanked, their demographic characteristics, and their reasons for being unbanked and underbanked. This survey was conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau as a special supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). The first survey was conducted in January 2009 and the second was conducted in June 2011. With the rich demographic and geographic data available through the CPS, this survey continues to present a wealth of previously unavailable data on unbanked and underbanked households at the national, state, and large metropolitan statistical area (MSA) levels.

The FDIC recognizes that public confidence in the banking system is strengthened when banks effectively serve the broadest possible set of consumers. As a result, the agency is committed to increasing the participation of unbanked and underbanked households in the financial mainstream. The FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households represents one contribution to this end, with a goal of providing insights that will inform efforts to better meet the needs of these consumers.

The survey addresses a gap in the availability of comprehensive data on the number of unbanked and underbanked households in the United States. The FDIC also conducted this survey in partial response to Section 7 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Conforming Amendments Act of 2005 that requires it to conduct ongoing surveys of banks efforts to serve the unbanked and provide insights into the size of the unbanked and underbanked markets. Some of the key overall findings from the 2013 include:

  • 7.7 percent (1 in 13) of households in the United States were unbanked in 2013. This proportion represented nearly 9.6 million households.
  • 20.0 percent of U.S. households (24.8 million) were underbanked in 2013, meaning that they had a bank account but also used alternative financial services (AFS) outside of the banking system.
  • The unbanked rate has varied from 7.6 percent in 2009 to 8.2 percent in 2011 and 7.7 percent in 2013.
    • The 0.5 percentage point decrease in the unbanked rate between 2011 and 2013 can be explained by differences in the economic conditions and demographic composition of households over this period.
    • In particular, compared to 2011, households in 2013 had slightly higher levels of employment and income, and were slightly older and better educated. These characteristics are all associated with a higher likelihood of having a bank account.
  • While relatively small proportions of U.S. households experienced major life events in the past year, households that transitioned in or out of the banking system were more likely to have experienced certain events:
    • Among households that recently became unbanked, 34.1 percent experienced either a significant income loss or a job loss that they said contributed to the household becoming unbanked.
    • Among households that recently became banked, 19.4 percent reported that a new job contributed to their opening a bank account.

See economicinclusion.gov for additional survey findings, including the ability to generate custom tables from all three years of survey data and the ability to download the survey data.

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