Nearly one-third (30%) of people said they used their stimulus checks to pay bills, according to a survey released this week, another sign that Americans are struggling to make ends meet, particularly with more than 38 million people filing for unemployment since mid-March.
Those bills — including for cellphones, utilities, cable TV and rent — are the No. 1 priority, even more than purchasing essentials and “relief spending” on apparel, televisions, video games, sporting goods and toys at Walmart WMT, 0.48%, Costco COST, 1.14% and Target TGT, 0.71%.
“It’s alarming to look at how many Americans used these funds to keep a roof over their head and pay for necessities considering the federal government has not provided clarity about another round of stimulus payments being provided in the near future,” according to the report by YouGov.
“Americans are aware of how grim the near future could be, and they took the opportunity to use the stimulus funds to help prepare them for it. By paying off debt, consumers free up some credit so they can turn to it, should they find themselves out of a job in the near future,” it added.
More than 130 million stimulus checks are winding their way to households. They’re a key part of the government’s $2.2 trillion CARES Act, but many furloughed and laid-off workers say a maximum $1,200 payment is not enough to see them through another, and perhaps bigger, Great Recession.