Is American Faith in Banks Finally on the Mend?

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By Ari Cetron

Wounds of the Great Recession are slow to heal when it comes to confidence in the banking industry. Gallup recently released results of a phone survey that found that only 26 percent of Americans have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in banks. The number is the same as last year, but higher than the historical low of 21 percent in 2012.

This doesn't mean that three-quarters of Americans are keeping their money under their mattress. Gallup also found that an additional 43 percent had "some" confidence in banks, while 28 percent had "very little" and 2 percent had "no" confidence.

Banks, like other large institutions, have taken a big hit in confidence in recent years, but still rank in the middle of the 17 institutions about which Gallup collects opinions. Banks did best in 1979, the first year Gallup started asking the question, when 60 percent of Americans had confidence in banks. It dropped to 30 percent in 1991 during the height of the savings and loan crisis. From there it drifted up to 53 percent in 2004, but fell off a cliff during the Great Recession, bottoming out in 2012.

A person's politics seem to be a factor. Gallup found the Republicans are most likely to have confidence in banks, at 35 percent, followed by Democrats at 27 percent and independents at 25 percent.

Similarly, 39 percent of people who are generally satisfied with the way things are going are confident in banks. But only 24 percent of those generally unsatisfied are confident.

The phone survey of 1,527 adults was taken June 2-7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

What's your level of confidence in banks? What about other financial institutions, such as credit unions? Share your opinion with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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