Over half of U.S. households spent their stimulus checks on essential bills like rent and food


As Democrats and Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration debate what financial aid should be included in the next coronavirus relief bill — or if there should be another relief bill at all — recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sheds light on how the 159 million Americans who received the one-time stimulus checks earlier this year spent the money.

The majority of Americans, 59%, used their checks to pay for daily expenses like food and bills, according to the BLS. The one-time coronavirus stimulus checks were issued as part of the the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. 

The largest portion of respondents, 66%, said they used at least some of their stimulus checks to pay for food. That's not surprising: around 26 million American adults reported in July that people in their households were not getting enough to eat because they did not have the funds to pay for food, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Half of those who received a check spent it on utility bills, while 47% spent some of it on household supplies and personal care items. More than half of respondents used it to pay for housing: 28% spent part of it on rent, while an additional 23% used it to pay their mortgage. 

After paying for essentials like food and rent, 13% used the checks to pay off debt and 12% saved most of it.

People in lower income groups were more likely to report using their checks to cover daily expenses than people in higher income groups. Of people earning less than $25,000 per year, 77% reported using their stimulus payment for expenses like food and rent, while 48% of those earning between $100,000 and $150,000 reported the same.

A second stimulus check has been part of Congress's ongoing negotiations, though it is not clear whether it will be included in the next package. Congress is currently on recess and will be back after Labor Day.

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How a 31-year-old DACA recipient making $46,000 in Denver spends his money
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