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How Much the Average American Household Has in Savings, and the Impact From COVID-19

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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A heavy consumer focus on savings has never been more important with the economic volatility brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. But average American household bank account balances are down 3%.

MagnifyMoney researchers examined average American savings and retirement data from before and after the coronavirus crisis began to provide a fuller picture. This can help evaluate how the pandemic has altered consumer savings in U.S. households. Here’s what we discovered.

Key findings

  • The average American household had a bank account balance of $41,700 in 2019, down 3% from 2016. The median bank account balance for households was $5,300 in 2019, up 11% from 2016.
  • The average American household had a retirement account balance of $255,200 in 2019, up 5% from 2016. The median retirement account balance for households was $65,000 in 2019, up 2% from 2016.
  • The U.S. personal savings rate — which measures the percentage of disposable income that households save — jumped from 12.9% in March 2020 to 33.6% in April 2020, a 160.5% increase driven by the pandemic.
  • Half of U.S. consumers believe they should have $10,000 or more in emergency savings, but more than half say they only have $3,000 or less combined in their savings and checking accounts.
  • 31% of American households say they or someone in their family has used all or most of their savings during the coronavirus crisis.

Average and median account balances in U.S. households

Here are the average and median household account balances, as of 2019, for bank and retirement accounts, as well as certificates of deposit:

Bank accounts, as defined by the Federal Reserve, include:

But not all households have various types of accounts:

As shown, 98.2% of households have at least one of these types of bank accounts. Here are details on the various accounts, comparing 2019 to 2016:

  • 98.2% of American households had bank accounts in 2019, up slightly from 2016
  • 50.5% of American households had retirement accounts in 2019, down 3.1% from 2016
  • 7.7% of American households had certificates of deposit in 2019, up 18.5% from 2016

Americans saved 33.6% of their income as unemployment surged

The coronavirus crisis created a volatile job market as the national unemployment rate rose to a record 14.7% in April — an increase of more than 10 percentage points from March.

As a result, monthly unemployment insurance benefits exponentially increased to $18.3 billion in April, up from $3.9 billion in March.

During the same period, the personal savings rates increased from 12.9% to 33.6%, which can point to consumers using unemployment and economic impact payments to supplement their savings accounts.

Monthly unemployment insurance benefits spiked to $23.8 billion in May before dropping to $16.2 billion in August. And the personal savings rate — which was 14.1% in August — has dropped monthly since April.

Half of U.S. consumers believe they should have $10,000 in emergency savings

According to a September 2020 survey conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than half of consumers feel unprepared with little emergency savings.

Surprisingly, income levels didn’t significantly impact the amount consumers believe they need in emergency savings. Here’s a further breakdown:

“A high percentage of consumers don’t have the emergency savings that they think they need, which is even the case for those with incomes of up to $70,000,” said Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts. “This shows that it takes more than just higher income to be financially prepared for unexpected problems.”

Households in largest U.S. cities depleting savings faster

Nearly 1 in 2 (46%) households have faced serious financial problems amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a September survey from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Those issues ranged from depleting savings to challenges paying rent to trouble affording medical care.

Looking at the four largest U.S. cities, Houston had the highest percentage of households where respondents had to use most or all of their savings, at 41%. Houston was followed by:

  • Los Angeles: 35%
  • Chicago: 35%
  • New York: 34%

These compare to the national average of 31%.

Large cities have generally faced longer and more severe shutdown measures, which have resulted in higher unemployment rates. This may explain why large cities have a higher percentage of households that have used all or most of their savings amid the coronavirus crisis.

“Emergency savings can help families weather periods of unemployment, but as shutdown measures continue, prolonged unemployment may drain even well-funded emergency savings,” Tumin said. “Since there remains considerable uncertainty in the nation’s economic future, consumers should make it a priority to fund their emergency savings to cover at least six months of living expenses.”

Checking deposits leading savings growth at commercial banks

Here’s a closer look at how customers at banks are allocating their deposits. The amount of savings in commercial banks has grown by a little more than $7 trillion since the start of 2009.

The pandemic has generated substantial growth in checking deposits over CDs, indicating that consumers value more flexibility and access to their accounts during this volatile period.

CD popularity continues decrease due to steady declining yields

The popularity of CDs has waned as banks pay relatively low APYs, even for longer CD maturities.

In 2020, the average yield for locking up savings in 12-month CDs barely exceeded the average yield on money market accounts, which are more liquid than CDs.

Mid-March saw the largest yield decreases across 12-month, 24-month and 36-month CDs, which aligns with the decreases in deposits shown previously.

Credit unions offering slightly better yields

In the first quarter of 2020 — the latest available data — savings increased in the much smaller credit union universe, while CD deposits remained steady.

At credit unions, regular share accounts are similar to savings accounts, while share certificates are similar to CDs.

While there are multiple explanations for the steady share of CDs at credit unions — such as the institutions’ nonprofit statuses, with members as shareholders — one apparent reason is the competitive rates they offer customers relative to banks.

Credit unions generally offer consistently interest higher rates on savings than commercial banks.

Sources

  • Federal Reserve 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances
  • Statista
  • U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
  • FDIC
  • National Credit Union Administration

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Since 1928, S&P 500 Returns Have Averaged -6.6% When a Republican President Held Office and a Democrat Was Elected

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It may not have not been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners or the Investment company.

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With Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, many Americans are trying to predict how the stock market will perform the rest of the year.

Since 1928, the S&P 500 has produced negative annual returns in three of five presidential years when a Republican president held office and a Democrat was elected.

MagnifyMoney researchers took a deeper dive at how markets have performed historically during presidential election years. Here’s what we learned.

How the S&P 500, Dow have performed during election years

Since 1928, the S&P 500 has produced negative annual returns in only six of 23 presidential election years. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has produced negative annual returns in seven of 23 presidential election years.

S&P 500

  • The average annual S&P 500 return in presidential election years from 1928 to 2016 was 7.1%. For comparison, the average annual return between 1928 and 2016 — not just accounting for election years — was 7.5%.
  • The largest negative annual S&P 500 return (-38.5%) in an election year was in 2008, the first full year of the Great Recession.
  • In the past 50 years, the S&P 500 had the highest election-year return (25.8%) in 1980. The market had been incredibly volatile, with S&P 500 trading volume breaking a record that year.

The S&P 500 was up 12% year to date as of 12:30 p.m. ET Nov. 9.

Dow

  • The average annual Dow return in presidential election years from 1928 to 2016 was 6%. For comparison, the average annual return between 1928 and 2016 — not just accounting for election years — was 7.2%.
  • The largest negative annual Dow return (-33.8%) in an election year was also in 2008.
  • In the past 50 years, the Dow had the highest election-year return (26%) in 1996, starting the run-up to the dot-com bubble.

The Dow was up 3.9% year to date as of 12:30 p.m. ET Nov. 9.

Election impact

Elections can have an impact on the stock market as uncertainty around policy direction in the run-up is eliminated, according to Tendayi Kapfidze, LendingTree’s chief economist.

“Since the stock market tends to go up over time, the most likely outcome is that the market will rise, as shown by the historical data,” he said. “For most investors, there is no need to take any action specifically because of election outcomes or election expectations.”

Investors looking for additional help can consider options among the best online brokers or the best robo-advisors, depending on their level of experience.

Political party effect on S&P 500, Dow

We sought to break down things further by looking at political parties, also dating to 1928.

S&P 500

  • The average S&P 500 return in an election year when a Republican president was elected was 11.2%, compared with 3.3% when a Democrat was elected.
  • When a Republican held the presidential office and a Democrat was elected, the average S&P return in those election years was -6.6%.
  • When a Republican held the presidential office and a new Republican was elected, the average S&P return in those election years (well, just 1988) was 12.4%.
  • When a Democrat held the presidential office and a new Democrat was elected, the average S&P return in those election years was 6.2%.
  • When a Democrat held the presidential office and a Republican was elected, the average S&P return in those election years was 8.9%.

Dow

  • The average Dow return in an election year when a Republican president was elected was 10.2%, compared with 2.2% when a Democrat was elected.
  • When a Republican held the presidential office and a Democrat was elected, the total Dow return in those election years was -8.8%.
  • When a Republican held the presidential office and a Republican was elected, the total Dow return in those election years (again, just 1988) was 11.8%.
  • When a Democrat held the presidential office and a new Democrat was elected, the average Dow return in those election years was 6.3%.
  • When a Democrat held the presidential office and a Republican was elected, the average Dow return in those election years was 7%.

Letting politics influence your portfolio positioning is dangerous, Kapfidze said.

“The two most recent presidents bear this out,” he said.” Under [President] Obama, many conservative investors were railing on about what they viewed as socialist policy and took actions, which meant they missed out on one of the greatest bull markets in history. Under [President] Trump, many liberal investors concerned about his perceived incompetence and corruption missed out on the continuation of that bull market.”

How different sectors perform during an election year

The financial sector saw the highest rate of S&P 500 returns from 1992 to 2014. Here’s a closer look at the 10 sectors that were examined, via FiGuide:

Gold has generated modest gains in election years. However, the second year of the presidency is when gold performs best, with an average return of 12.8%.

Methodology

LendingTree looked at S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average returns during election years, along with which political parties were in office. Sources included Macrotrends, Charles Schwab and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Banking

How Much the Average American Household Has in Savings, and the Impact From COVID-19

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

Reviewed By

A heavy consumer focus on savings has never been more important with the economic volatility brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. But average American household bank account balances are down 3%.

MagnifyMoney researchers examined average American savings and retirement data from before and after the coronavirus crisis began to provide a fuller picture. This can help evaluate how the pandemic has altered consumer savings in U.S. households. Here’s what we discovered.

Key findings

  • The average American household had a bank account balance of $41,700 in 2019, down 3% from 2016. The median bank account balance for households was $5,300 in 2019, up 11% from 2016.
  • The average American household had a retirement account balance of $255,200 in 2019, up 5% from 2016. The median retirement account balance for households was $65,000 in 2019, up 2% from 2016.
  • The U.S. personal savings rate — which measures the percentage of disposable income that households save — jumped from 12.9% in March 2020 to 33.6% in April 2020, a 160.5% increase driven by the pandemic.
  • Half of U.S. consumers believe they should have $10,000 or more in emergency savings, but more than half say they only have $3,000 or less combined in their savings and checking accounts.
  • 31% of American households say they or someone in their family has used all or most of their savings during the coronavirus crisis.

Average and median account balances in U.S. households

Here are the average and median household account balances, as of 2019, for bank and retirement accounts, as well as certificates of deposit:

Bank accounts, as defined by the Federal Reserve, include:

But not all households have various types of accounts:

As shown, 98.2% of households have at least one of these types of bank accounts. Here are details on the various accounts, comparing 2019 to 2016:

  • 98.2% of American households had bank accounts in 2019, up slightly from 2016
  • 50.5% of American households had retirement accounts in 2019, down 3.1% from 2016
  • 7.7% of American households had certificates of deposit in 2019, up 18.5% from 2016

Americans saved 33.6% of their income as unemployment surged

The coronavirus crisis created a volatile job market as the national unemployment rate rose to a record 14.7% in April — an increase of more than 10 percentage points from March.

As a result, monthly unemployment insurance benefits exponentially increased to $18.3 billion in April, up from $3.9 billion in March.

During the same period, the personal savings rates increased from 12.9% to 33.6%, which can point to consumers using unemployment and economic impact payments to supplement their savings accounts.

Monthly unemployment insurance benefits spiked to $23.8 billion in May before dropping to $16.2 billion in August. And the personal savings rate — which was 14.1% in August — has dropped monthly since April.

Half of U.S. consumers believe they should have $10,000 in emergency savings

According to a September 2020 survey conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than half of consumers feel unprepared with little emergency savings.

Surprisingly, income levels didn’t significantly impact the amount consumers believe they need in emergency savings. Here’s a further breakdown:

“A high percentage of consumers don’t have the emergency savings that they think they need, which is even the case for those with incomes of up to $70,000,” said Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts. “This shows that it takes more than just higher income to be financially prepared for unexpected problems.”

Households in largest U.S. cities depleting savings faster

Nearly 1 in 2 (46%) households have faced serious financial problems amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a September survey from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Those issues ranged from depleting savings to challenges paying rent to trouble affording medical care.

Looking at the four largest U.S. cities, Houston had the highest percentage of households where respondents had to use most or all of their savings, at 41%. Houston was followed by:

  • Los Angeles: 35%
  • Chicago: 35%
  • New York: 34%

These compare to the national average of 31%.

Large cities have generally faced longer and more severe shutdown measures, which have resulted in higher unemployment rates. This may explain why large cities have a higher percentage of households that have used all or most of their savings amid the coronavirus crisis.

“Emergency savings can help families weather periods of unemployment, but as shutdown measures continue, prolonged unemployment may drain even well-funded emergency savings,” Tumin said. “Since there remains considerable uncertainty in the nation’s economic future, consumers should make it a priority to fund their emergency savings to cover at least six months of living expenses.”

Checking deposits leading savings growth at commercial banks

Here’s a closer look at how customers at banks are allocating their deposits. The amount of savings in commercial banks has grown by a little more than $7 trillion since the start of 2009.

The pandemic has generated substantial growth in checking deposits over CDs, indicating that consumers value more flexibility and access to their accounts during this volatile period.

CD popularity continues decrease due to steady declining yields

The popularity of CDs has waned as banks pay relatively low APYs, even for longer CD maturities.

In 2020, the average yield for locking up savings in 12-month CDs barely exceeded the average yield on money market accounts, which are more liquid than CDs.

Mid-March saw the largest yield decreases across 12-month, 24-month and 36-month CDs, which aligns with the decreases in deposits shown previously.

Credit unions offering slightly better yields

In the first quarter of 2020 — the latest available data — savings increased in the much smaller credit union universe, while CD deposits remained steady.

At credit unions, regular share accounts are similar to savings accounts, while share certificates are similar to CDs.

While there are multiple explanations for the steady share of CDs at credit unions — such as the institutions’ nonprofit statuses, with members as shareholders — one apparent reason is the competitive rates they offer customers relative to banks.

Credit unions generally offer consistently interest higher rates on savings than commercial banks.

Sources

  • Federal Reserve 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances
  • Statista
  • U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
  • FDIC
  • National Credit Union Administration