Millions Of Households From Harlem To Hollis Are Unbanked And Underbanked Says Report

Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) today released a research brief illustrating the updated number of unbanked and underbanked households in NYC and where they live. The brief shows that 354,100 households (11.2 percent) have no bank account (unbanked) and another 689,000 households (21.8 percent) have a bank account but use alternative financial products for some banking needs (underbanked). The estimated number of unbanked and underbanked households are disproportionately in neighborhoods that have higher rates of vulnerable residents and residents struggling in other areas of financial health.

“Having a bank account is an essential part of financial stability and it is promising to see that the number of un- and underbanked households has continued to decline slightly,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “But the number is still much too high and it is troubling that New Yorkers are less likely to use a bank account than the rest of the country—and that those who aren’t using them are concentrated in predominately minority and/or low-income neighborhoods. We encourage New Yorkers to make an appointment at one of our Financial Empowerment Centers where a counselor can help you find the right account and work together towards your financial goals.”

DCWP also found that, while compared to 2013, the percent of unbanked households (11.2 versus 11.7) and underbanked households (21.8 versus 25.1) went down, NYC households are still considerably more likely than households nationally to be unbanked (11.2 percent versus 6.5 percent) and underbanked (21.8 percent versus 20 percent). Bronx households have also greater unbanked (1.7 times greater) and underbanked (1.4 times greater) rates than the rest of the city. In addition, 10 neighborhoods account for nearly 35 percent of unbanked households. Neighborhoods with higher rates of unbanked and underbanked households also have more alternative financial services providers than banks or credit unions.

This brief is an update to the 2015 report “Where Are the Unbanked and Underbanked in NYC?” and uses data from 2017, the most recent data available. DCWP plans to update this data again next year when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) releases its 2019 data and biannually after that.

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DCWP encourages anyone who needs help opening a bank account, reducing debt, strengthening their credit score, or more to visit an NYC Financial Empowerment Center for free, one-on-one financial counseling. Since 2008, the Centers have helped more than 55,000 New Yorkers improve their financial health and reduce their debt by almost $70 million and increase their savings by more than $5.8 million. New Yorkers can book a free and confidential appointment with a professional financial counselor at nyc.gov/TalkMoney or by calling 311.

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NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCWP licenses more than 75,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCWP protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCWP empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCWP also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCWP and its work, call 311 or visit DCWP at nyc.gov/dcwp or on its social media sites, TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube.

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