3.4% Of Vermonters Are ‘Unbanked’

Deer Mountain across from my house in Braintree is covered with fading logging roads made years ago by a fellow named Ervil, who owned half the mountain and worked on it with his team of horses.

At some point Ervil bought a truck and, as his nephew tells the story, he paid for it with $16,000 he pulled from his pocket. Ervil kept all his money at home. He’d fit the FDIC definition of someone who is ‘unbanked’,  “those that lack any kind of deposit account at an insured depository institution”.

I suspect there were many people like Ervil years ago in Vermont, but there are relatively few now.

According to an annual survey (PDF) done by the FDIC and Census Bureau, 8.2% of U.S. households are unbanked.  Another 20.1% are ‘underbanked’.  That means they have a bank account but, like the unbanked, use services other than those provided by banks, like pre-paid debit cards and ‘alternative financial services’ (AFS) like pawn shops, check cashing outlets and payday loan stores.

The survey also points out that there are still millions of people like Ervil: “A non-trivial share of unbanked households (29.5 percent) do not use any of the AFS providers asked about in the survey, suggesting they rely primarily on cash.”

Vermont is well below these national averages.  The data, which you’ll find on p. 125 of the survey, indicates 3.4% of Vermonters are unbanked and 17.4% are underbanked.

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