20 Jul 2023

Interesting charts by Chartr on US consumers cash buffer

When the pandemic hit, many of us instinctively reigned in our spending — partly out of choice, and partly because there weren’t a lot of fun things to splurge on. That set of circumstances coincided with stimulus checks and tax credits in April 2021, leading to many Americans building up healthier-than-usual cash balances in their bank accounts. However, new data from JPMorgan reveals that much of the buffer has now disappeared. Although US households still hold approximately 10% to 15% more cash in their savings accounts than before the pandemic, analysis of 9 million Chase customers reveals that the median account balance has dropped significantly in the last 2 years. That could help explain why the much-feared recession has yet to materialize, as consumers have had strong reserves to combat rampant inflation and rises in borrowing costs. Interestingly, the trend is seen across all income brackets. The nation's top quarter of earners have seen their savings accounts decline from a median high of nearly $12,000 to $9,000, as of March this year — though their 25% decrease is a smaller relative drop than that experienced by lower earners. Indeed, people in the lowest income quartile — who likely have to allocate a larger portion of their income to essentials — have seen a 41% decline since their savings peaked.


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