Apr 28, 2020 - Health

Americans are choosing to save, not spend, their stimulus checks

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Table: Axios Visuals

More Americans have chosen to save their CARES Act direct payment checks than spend them, even to catch up on bills or purchase household needs, the latest results of the Axios/Ipsos poll show.

What's happening: Despite nearly 20% saying they had been furloughed, laid off or otherwise separated from their job, the most popular answer among survey respondents was to sock their money away, with 38% saying they put it into savings.

Why it matters: Economists have worried that one major effect of the coronavirus pandemic could be that Americans become more conscious of their savings and cut back on spending.

  • While few were expected to spend their checks on discretionary purchases like TVs or vacations, given nationwide lockdown orders, the particularly high rate of savings could signal a shift.

Between the lines: While around a third of respondents from all racial, age and income groups chose savings, it was not the top choice for Black or Hispanic respondents or those making less than $50,000 a year.

By the numbers: Black respondents' top choice — 49% compared to 26% of all those surveyed — was to pay off debt, while more Hispanics planned to pay for food and basic household needs (40% vs 25%), as did respondents earning less than $50,000 (35%).

  • White respondents were the most likely to be uncertain what they would do with the money, with 21% saying they had not spent it yet but planned to.
  • That compared to 16% of Black folks and 5% of Hispanics.

Of note: Respondents were permitted to choose more than one option.

Go deeper