New Report Documents Lack of Banking and Financial Services in the San Joaquin Valley
June 11, 2013– A new report by the California Reinvestment Coalition, “Down in the Valley: Financial Neglect in Rural California”, documents the low and disproportionate level of investment and financial services in California’s rich agricultural center—the San Joaquin Valley. The three biggest banks in the state—Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo—provide a lower level of affordable consumer, housing and small business lending and services to Valley residents and businesses than consumers in other parts of California.
The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive rural economies in the country with a higher population than twenty-two states in the country. However, the Valley suffered greatly during the housing crisis, and is lagging behind other regions of the state in the current economic recovery. The per capita income is incredibly low ($19,744) and the unemployment rate is very high (15.5%), compared to state averages ($27,344 and 10.8%,respectively).
Key findings of the report include:
• Compared to the average Californian, San Joaquin Valley residents are 33% more likely to be unbanked (no basic bank account) or underbanked. The Valley has a whopping 140 check cashing and payday stores per100,000 households compared to only 51 bank branches per 100,000.
• The Big 3 banks, as well as the industry overall, made fewer home loans per owner-occupied household in the Valley and denied home loans to Valley residents at higher rates than other regions of the state. In addition, the San Joaquin Valley received only 1% of all multifamily loans statewide despite the dire need for affordable rental housing
• Although the proportion of small businesses in the Valley is 6.7%, Bank of America only made 5.7% of its loans there, while JP Morgan Chase made 3.7% and Wells Fargo made 5.3%. Lending levels to minority-owned businesses in the Valley is equally disappointing.
“California will not recover economically without its great agricultural Valley,” stated Alan Fisher, Executive Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition. “Banks and federal regulators must recognize the opportunity outside of major metropolitan areas. The San Joaquin Valley and its communities will not recover economically without a dramatic change in financial opportunity.”
The report lists detailed recommendations for banks and regulators that would increase access to basic consumer products, small business loans, and housing opportunities for San Joaquin Valley residents.
The California Reinvestment Coalition is a membership organization of over 300 nonprofits and public agencies advocating for fair and equal access to financial services for low income communities and communities of color in California.