Tens of millions of Americans have received stimulus checks from the government, while millions of others say they’re still waiting. CivicScience took the pulse on how the majority of relief payments are being used among those who qualify and have received a check. 

In a CivicScience survey of over 3,000 U.S. adult responses from early May 2020, nearly 40% say they’re saving the payment while roughly 30% said they used it to pay down debt or pay off bills, and 14% have been purchasing necessities. This is a shift from prior studies indicating that paying down debt/bills and buying necessities were higher priority than saving for those planning to receive payments. 

As of May 7th, 31% of U.S. adults who were employed pre-pandemic have been laid off, furloughed, or are working reduced hours. This group of Americans is the most likely to say they paid off debt and/or bills while those who have continued to work are overwhelmingly more likely to be saving. 

When analyzing behavior by age demos, a different story emerges. While it’s important to note that high school and college-aged young adults were largely excluded from receiving stimulus checks, those ages 18-24 were more likely than other groups to have treated themselves to something they wanted, donated it, or spent it on something else. Sixty-six percent still said they saved it, purchased necessities, or paid off debt/bills. 

CivicScience has been closely studying how consumers will approach leaving quarantine once their local and state governments move to lift lockdown orders. Those who would mostly or fully remain in quarantine are more likely to say they’ve been purchasing necessities, however this is likely a proxy for household income status.  

As anxieties mount over economic and job concerns, CivicScience will continue to track how Americans are using their stimulus payments – especially if the government were to announce another payment.  While there are no current plans to do so, 61% of U.S. adults say they’d support a move to provide a second payment.