WASHINGTON – Americans are proving remarkably reliable in how they are spending their federal stimulus payments.
The New York Federal Reserve released a study this week that showed Americans are using most of the money for paying down debt and for savings, with a smaller portion going to actual spending.
According to the report, households, on average, are using or plan to use about 41.6% of the latest relief payment toward savings, 33.7% toward debt and 24.7% for spending. On average, 13% of the money being spent is expected to go to essential items with another eight percent for non-essentials.
The New York Fed found that respondents without college degrees say they will use more of the money to pay down debt than college-educated Americans – 37% versus 27%.
Despite the national vaccine rollout and progress toward herd immunity, the percentages for spending, saving and paying down debt have stayed relatively stable for each of the three rounds of payments.
After Americans received stimulus checks as part of the CARES Act in spring of 2020, they spent slightly more than the other two rounds – 29%, with 36.4% being saved and 34.5% used to pay off debt, surveys showed.
After the second round of stimulus checks, 25.5% of the $600 checks was spent with 37.1% saved and 37.4% used to pay down debt.
“Our findings indicate that in an environment that continues to be characterized by constraints on many activities and by high unemployment, as well as high uncertainty about the duration and continued economic impact of the pandemic (including elevated uncertainty about future inflation), fiscal support continues to impact predominantly savings instead of consumption, with households planning to use the third relief payments mostly to pay off debt and save,” the study’s authors wrote.
The researchers say they expect the increase in savings to eventually fuel a rise in spending as the economy opens up, but there is still “a great deal of uncertainty and discussion exists about the pace of this spending increase and the extent of pent-up demand.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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