What did you do with your COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP)? If you're like most of the folks who responded to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, you used it to pay household bills.
Many in the White House and on Capitol Hill had hoped the funds would help jump-start the stalled economy and then keep it going as businesses started to reopen. Looks like that's a big sorry on both counts.
Instead, it appears, at least in this EIP stage, that many people need the COVID-19 government windfall, just as they do their usual tax refunds, to make ends meet.
Income affects use: Not surprisingly, again along the lines of usual tax refund usage studies, the latest Census Bureau Experimental Household Pulse Survey found that incomes affected people's plans for their coronavirus cash.
Households with incomes between $75,000 and $99,999 were more likely to use their stimulus payments to pay off debt or to add to savings, compared to households overall. More than a third of adults in these upper middle-class households reported that they would use the money to pay off debt or add to savings.
However, households with incomes of $25,000 or less, had more urgent uses for the payments. In this earnings demographic, 87.6 percent said they would use their stimulus payments to meet expenses.
Variety of needs: Those who spent the money did so on a variety of expenses, but day-to-day necessities were a major target.
About 80 percent of respondents who used the money to pay expenses reported that the money went toward purchasing food.
More than three-quarters, or 77.9 percent, said their COVID-19 payments went toward rent, mortgage and/or utilities, including gas, electricity, cable, internet and cellphone bills.
More than half, or 58.2 percent, of those who opted to spend their EIPs reported the money going toward household supplies and personal care products.
About a fifth, or 20.5 percent, said they bought clothing with the money.
A smaller portion, or 8.1 percent, said they spent or would spend the stimulus on items such as televisions, electronics, furniture and appliances or on recreational goods like fitness equipment, toys and games.
Survey targets, timing and goal: This latest Household Pulse Survey was sent to almost 1.2 million people, with 73,475 people responding the week of June 11-16.
The Census Bureau designed the Household Pulse Survey with input from five other federal agency partners that are part of the Federal Statistical System. They are the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics, the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, the National Center for Education Statistics and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The goal of the collective group is to gather and disseminate data in near real-time to provide insights into how American households are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So why there is a lot of data in conjunction with this latest Census Bureau survey, this week's By the Numbers figure is six in recognition of the half dozen federal agencies whose workers are pooling their resources during this extraordinary and extraordinarily trying time for all of us.
You also might find these items of interest:
- 6 reasons why your COVID stimulus amount was less than you expected
- IRS has distributed 152 million COVID-19 relief payments worth $258 billion
- Still waiting for your COVID payment? Here's how to get or track your money
|Coronavirus Caveat & More Information
In 2020, we're all dealing with extraordinary circumstances,
both in our daily lives and when it comes to our taxes.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its transmission
and protect ourselves and our families means that,
for the most part, we're focusing on just getting through these trying days.
But life as we knew it before the coronavirus will return,
along with our mundane tax matters.
Here's hoping that happens soon!
In the meantime, you can find more on the virus and its effects on our taxes
by clicking Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Taxes.