Americans Are Saving Part of Their COVID-19 Stimulus Checks

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
April 28, 2020Updated: April 28, 2020

Many Americans who have received their COVID-19 economic impact payments, also referred to as stimulus checks, have chosen to save at least some of the money rather than spend it, a new poll shows.

The most popular answer (38 percent) given by people who responded to a recent Axios/Ipsos survey about what they’ve done with the funds from the stimulus payments is that they’ve tucked them away for a rainy day.

The next most common response was to pay off debts (26 percent), followed by spending on food and basic household needs (25 percent), and then on paying their rent or mortgage (14 percent).

Daniel Ruffner, a cook who’s now out of work due to the closure of his upstate New York restaurant, told The Washington Post that he used some of his $1,200 impact payment on groceries, bills, and rent.

“I’ve just been stocking up on food and paying all of the bills. It’s nice to finally be able to see my bills go to zero,” he told the outlet.

The Axios/Ipsos poll showed that 5 percent of respondents chose to donate their economic impact payment to someone in greater need than themselves (5 percent).

A group in North Carolina is encouraging people in stable financial positions to donate part of their stimulus check to local causes or neighbors in need, and has set up a website called Pledge My Check to facilitate this, WCIV reported.

“We’ve had people pledge their entire stimulus checks to essential workers, neighbors, or local restaurant worker relief funds,” said member and Executive Director of Journeymen Triangle, Jordan Bowman, the outlet reported. “We’ve seen thousands of pledges come in to support local food banks affiliated with Feeding America. It has truly been inspiring.”

According to the poll, 18 percent of respondents said they hadn’t spent the money yet, but planned to.

People responding to the poll were able to tick multiple categories, so answers were permitted that would reflect a situation in which people both saved some of the money and spent some of it on, say, food. This means that the percentages from all the answers will add up to more than 100 percent.

The responses to the Axios/Ipsos poll contrast with those from a Fortune/SurveyMonkey poll conducted between April 10-14, which showed that most people would use stimulus money to pay bills (47 percent), followed by purchasing groceries (33 percent), buying household essentials (30 percent), and paying rent or mortgage (29 percent). Just 26 percent said they would sock it away.

The economic impact payments are the centerpiece of the government’s economic relief package. Called the CARES Act, the relief bill stipulated payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, along with an additional $500 for each dependent child under 17. The payments start to phase out for individuals earning over $75,000 or $150,000 for couples.

These beneficiaries don’t need to do anything, and the payments will be issued automatically.

The Internal Revenue Service said last Friday that it has issued more than 88 million economic impact payments to households through April 17, with the money disbursed totaling about $158 billion.

Meanwhile, over the weekend the Trump administration mailed a letter to some Americans who received the payments.

Epoch Times Photo
The White House mailed out a letter from President Donald Trump to announce the IRS payments. (The Epoch Times)

“My fellow American,” it started, “Our great country is experiencing an unprecedented public health and economic challenge as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.”

In the past five weeks alone, the number of initial jobless claim filings totaled some 26.4 million, erasing all the jobs created since the Great Recession. The economic boom following the 2008 financial crisis was the longest in U.S. history when lockdowns, sparked by the outbreak of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, the novel coronavirus that emerged from China in 2019, brought it to a dramatic end.

In recent remarks on ABC’s “This Week,” White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the nation’s economic outlook was in a “really grave situation.”

“We’re going to be looking at an unemployment rate that approaches rates that I think we saw during the Great Depression,” he said. “During the Great Recession … we lost 8.7 million jobs in the whole thing. … We’re losing that every 10 days.”