May 24, 2022

Fed releases Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2021 report

fed The Federal Reserve Monday released the results of its annual Survey of Household Economics and Decision-making (SHED) survey on household financial well-being. According to the survey, 78 percent of adults were either doing okay or living comfortably financially, the highest share with this level of financial well-being since the Fed began conducting the survey in 2013. Meanwhile, 68 percent of adults said they would cover a $400 emergency expense exclusively using cash or its equivalent, up from 50 percent who would pay this way when the survey began in 2013.

Of note, 48 percent of adults rated their local economy as “good” or “excellent” in 2021. This share was up from 43 percent in 2020 but well below the 63 percent of adults who rated their local economy as “good” or “excellent” in 2019, before the pandemic.

The report covers topics of interest for financial institutions, and additional findings of the 2021 SHED survey include: 

  • Most people using cryptocurrencies did so for investment purposes, and those purely using crypto for investment purposes were of disproportionately high-income, almost always had a traditional banking relationship, and typically had other retirement savings;
  • Twelve percent of adults held or used crypto in the prior year, and 11 percent of adults had held crypto as an investment while a smaller 2 percent of said that they used crypto to buy something or make a payment in the prior 12 months, and 1 percent used it to send money to friends or family;
  • Eleven percent of adults with a bank account paid an overdraft fee in the previous year;
  • overall, ten percent of people used a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) service in the previous year, 7 percent were making payments under a BNPL plan at the time of the survey, with about half paying on just one purchase;
  • The most cited reasons for using BNPL services were convenience (78 percent) and not wanting to use a credit card (53 percent). Fifty-one percent of respondents who used BNPL also indicated that it was the only way they could afford their purchase;
  • Eighty-one percent of adults in the United States were “fully banked,” meaning that they had a bank account and, in the past 12 months, did not use any of the alternative financial services asked about in the survey.

Read the report. See NAFCU's recent economic analysis reports here.