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Expand chart
Data: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

A major reason banks were rolling in so much dough last quarter is the explosive growth of the U.S. personal savings rate, which hit the highest mark since the 1980s in March and a historic 33% rate in April.

By the numbers: The rate of savings as a percentage of disposable income was by far the highest since the Bureau of Economic Analysis started tracking it in the 1960s.

  • The savings rate has jumped to almost double the previous record of 17.3% in May 1975.
  • Spending declined by a record 13.6% in April.

Yes, but: There is an aspect of “forced savings,” Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, told CNBC

  • “There’s not much opportunity for many people to go out and spend money," Megan Greene, a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, told CNBC.
  • “With shops all closed and everybody locked up, the ‘shopportunities’ have dried up. That speaks to a kind of demand shock.”

Yes, but, but: Many economists have worried about the coronavirus pandemic leading to a more structural change in saving and spending habits leading to a permanently higher savings rate.

  • During the 1970s, the savings rate was consistently around 14%.

The big picture: The U.S. economy is much more dependent on consumer spending than it has been historically, and that is especially true now.

  • Businesses are looking to bounce back from losses suffered during government-imposed lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and will need savings rates to fall back quickly and for consumers to return to previous spending patterns.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Aug 13, 2020 - Economy & Business

The statistics crisis

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you don't know how broken something is, you're not going to be able to fix it.

  • That's the crisis facing policymakers trying to repair a devastated economy without knowing the true degree to which the pandemic has hurt the country.

First look: Biden's economic case for green cards

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) is promoting the economic benefits and costs of providing green cards to millions of unauthorized immigrants in a blogpost being released on Friday, according to a draft provided to Axios.

Why it matters: The post comes as the fate of millions of immigrants, including those with Temporary Protected Status or DACA protections, rests with Congress — and the Senate parliamentarian.

Ina Fried, author of Login
5 mins ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Facebook's social balance is in the red

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Facebook is essential to our lives. Facebook is ruining our lives. Holding both these truths at once will make your head hurt.

While covering the Olympics in Tokyo, I spent a ton of time on Facebook. Each day, during several hourlong bus rides, I would see who was online in Messenger and share photos and stories there with family and friends. I also posted frequently on my news feed.