The Rich Still Aren’t Spending Like They Used To

Here’s a fascinating chart from the New York Times:

First of all, it’s interesting to see how fast spending plummeted: it declined by a third within the space of less than two weeks. That’s unreal.

Second, it shows how effective the UI bonus payments have been. These payments go to the unemployed, who are largely in the bottom half of the income spectrum, and those are the people whose spending rebounded most strongly.

Third, it suggests that the upper middle class is still spending way less than it used to. The article notes this, but finds it largely inexplicable. However, given that the top 25 percent are responsible for something like half of all spending, their reluctance to get back to normal is a big deal.

My own guess? Low-income workers cut back on necessities (rent, food, etc.) because that’s all they buy. When they got more money, they started buying that stuff again because they had to. Richer folks cut back mainly on luxuries (theater outings, expensive restaurant meals), and many of those things are still unavailable. More generally, their spending is still down because they mainly cut back on nonessential items in the first place and that means they can afford to wait a while before they get back to normal.

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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