Fed Report Finds Banking Disparities Persist

An annual Federal Reserve survey found that despite the high percentage of Americans with a credit union or bank account, disparities persist. Learn more.

David Baumann


May 24



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David Baumann

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David Baumann

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Annual survey shows overall financial well-being fell markedly over past year.

Even as they reported that their financial health was deteriorating, Americans maintained their accounts at credit unions and banks last year, according to a new Federal Reserve report.

In 2022, 94% of adults had a credit union or bank account, although notable gaps remain by income, age, race, ethnicity and disability status, according to the Fed’s annual Survey of Household Economics and Decision-Making.

Drop in Financial Well-Being

“Overall financial well-being declined markedly over the prior year,” the Fed found, adding that 73% of adults responding were doing at least “okay” financially in 2022, down five percentage points from 2021. Overall financial well-being dropped to the lowest level since 2016, with many people saying that higher prices and inflation had hit them hard.

The share of adults who said they were worse off financially than a year earlier rose to 35%—the highest level since the question was asked in 2014.

Disparities in Unbanked Rates

Regarding unbanked rates, the Fed reported that:

–6% of adults were unbanked in 2022—a level that was unchanged from the previous year. Unbanked rates were particularly high among adults with low incomes—17% of adults with incomes below $25,000 reported not having a bank account.

–Unbanked rates also were higher among younger adults, as well as Black and Hispanic adults. Overall, 13% of Blacks and 10% of Hispanic respondents said they did not have a bank account, compared with 3% of whites.

Credit and Overdraft Fees

The survey additionally found that:

–11% of adults with bank accounts reported they had paid an overdraft fee in the prior 12 months—the same percentage as in 2021. Banked adults with incomes less than $50,000 were more than twice as likely to have paid an overdraft fee than people with an income of $100,000 or more.

–35% of respondents reported having applied for credit in 2022, down three percentage points from the year before. The percentage that was denied credit or approved for less credit than they requested rose two percentage points, to 30%.

–Denial rates differed by race and ethnicity, with Black and Hispanic applicants being particularly likely to be denied credit, regardless of their incomes.

–5% of the adult respondents reported using a payday, pawn, auto title or tax refund anticipation loan in 2022—a figure that was unchanged from 2021. Nearly one in five of those rating their credit as “very poor” did so, compared with 1% of those who said their credit was “excellent.” Adults with a lower income, Black and Hispanic adults, and those with a disability were more likely to use these services.

–The most common bill that people did not anticipate paying in full was their credit card bill, with 9% of adults saying they would expect to pay less than the full amount.

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