But no matter the details, the point Edwards seeks to make is the same: Because they lack bank accounts, millions of poor must rely on expensive check-cashing services and payday loans.
The Edwards campaign Website uses the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank for its figure of about 56 million people without accounts. The center got the number from a 2002 report by the General Accounting Office, which used U.S. Census data to estimate that 55.9-million adults did not hold checking, savings or money market accounts in 1999.
But that number is at the high end of the available estimates. According to the Federal Reserve Board's 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances, its most recent, the number of American families without a bank account is closer to 10-million. The Census estimates 2.6 individuals per houshold, which would put the Federal Reserve estimate on bank accounts at 26-million at the very most because the Census household figure includes children.