The delivery of three coronavirus stimulus payments—a $1,200 check in April 2020, $600 in December, and the current $1,400 payments under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan—over the past year appears to have done wonders to keep millions of American financially afloat amid the pandemic.
According to a new survey conducted by doxo, a Seattle-based web and mobile bill pay service, it revealed that 95 percent of Americans admitted that stimulus checks helped improve their financial health over the past twelve months. Moreover, more than 90 percent said the stimulus checks helped them between “a little” and “a great deal.”
About nine in ten respondents felt confident that stimulus payments will help the U.S. economy improve between “a little” and “a great deal,” while 63 percent said their financial health will recover within the next twelve months.
As for how Americans spent the government-issued funds, the majority of the checks was found to be spent on reducing household bills. In fact, roughly 60 percent of stimulus recipients used the money to pay off such bills, which included those for utilities, cell phones, and internet.
The survey further revealed that 17 percent of respondents used the stimulus to settle outstanding debt, while 10 percent put the money in savings.
The findings by doxo come on the heels of a separate University of Michigan study that showed the stimulus checks helped many Americans avoid financial ruin.
After analyzing Census Bureau data, it discovered that household food shortages fell by 42 percent and financial instability 43 percent. Furthermore, mental health of Americans markedly improved—as frequent bouts of anxiety and depression plummeted by more than 20 percent.
“Our analyses thus far have yielded a fairly simple story: throughout the crisis, the level of hardship faced by U.S. households can be directly linked to the federal government’s response,” the study wrote.
The researchers also contended that low-income households earning $25,000 or less benefitted the most from the direct cash payments. “The sharpest declines in hardship immediately followed the passage of these two relief bills, coinciding with the delivery of EIPs (Economic Impact Payments), and the gains were greatest among the lowest income households,” they wrote.
In addition, another report released by the Economic Security Project revealed that more stimulus payments could lift twelve million Americans out of poverty. “Evidence from the last year shows stimulus checks to be the fastest and most impactful investments helping Americans get through this crisis, lifting more people out of poverty than any other single policy,” it stated.
Such findings also seem to support the growing calls for Washington to quickly green-light more rounds of stimulus. Although mostly noncommittal, the White House has not yet definitively said no to such payments.
“(Biden) is happy to hear from a range of ideas on what would be most effective and what’s most important to the economy moving forward,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently told reporters.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.