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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

New data from the JPMorgan Chase Institute released Wednesday shines a light on how and when stimulus checks were used by Americans over the last year.

Why it matters: While D.C. debated the size and frequency of stimulus payments, many economists had argued the crisis caused by the pandemic required a large response. The new data shows that the stimulus played a key role in boosting the cash buffers of low-income families disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

  • The largest year-over-year declines in income from labor were felt by lower-income households. Those households also had the highest increase in total income as a result of government programs.

By the numbers: Stimulus saving and spending among those disproportionately impacted was bigger and faster than in other socioeconomics groups, according to the Institute's report, which is based on anonymized checking account activity by families that use Chase bank.

  • After the April 2020 stimulus checks were deployed, median cash balances rose by about $900 versus 2019 levels, and from there fell by roughly $500 by the end of December.
  • In May of last year, lower-income households had doubled their balances relative to 2019, while balances among the highest-earning families were up by roughly 40%.
  • However, those gains were more quickly depleted for low-income families. They lost 70% of their 2020 balance gains by the end of December, while the highest-income families lost 48%.

Go deeper: Overall, more Americans saved stimulus money the last round.

Go deeper

Report: Pandemic aid programs reduce poverty at record level

Unemployed people speak with hiring representatives during a job fair in Beattyville, Kentucky, on July 28. Photo: Jon Cherry/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pandemic-related government aid programs are projected to cut poverty nearly in half this year from pre-pandemic levels, according to a report by the Urban Institute.

Why it matters: The Urban Institute projects the poverty rate will fall to 7.7% this year from 13.9% in 2018, which will amount to the largest reduction in poverty the U.S. has seen in such a small increment of time.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

The Robinhood M&A rumor mill churns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Robinhood's valuation is now just over $11 billion, a fraction of where it traded in August and below that of its last private round of funding. Cue the M&A mongers.

Why it matters: It's not just Robinhood—falling values of growth-oriented tech stocks have raised speculation that formerly high-flying fintechs could be snapped up by more well-capitalized buyers.