State of Savings: July 2020

Our proprietary data reveals how individuals in the U.S. have changed their savings behaviors over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic as business and travel restrictions disrupted our economy. Not surprisingly, we saw notable shifts in savings plan contributions and withdrawals in the first few months of the outbreak, as individuals experienced changes in employment and braced for the potential financial fallout. States across our nation have since begun phased reopenings of businesses, and our data already suggests positive signs of savings recovery.


  • The industries that we reported as having the most significant drop-off in retirement plan contribution activity as of the end of May have seen striking improvements in these contribution deficits:
    • Accommodation & Food Services: 5.4% more plans contributed in June, a 96% deficit reduction from May
    • Health Care & Social Assistance: 3.8% more plans contributed in June, a 75% deficit reduction from May
    • Retail Trade: 2.4% more plans contributed in June, a 95% deficit reduction from May
  • Though there was a 7.4% decrease in the total amount of employer contributions through June based on projections, this represents a 4 percentage point improvement over May.
  • Positively, 9.0% of employers that decreased their retirement plan match in or after March have since increased their match or returned to pre-March levels.
  • In January through June, 93.1% of savers made no change to their savings rates. Only 1.3% of savers stopped their deferrals entirely, and only 1.9% reduced their savings rate.
  • 13.7% of employers have adopted coronavirus-related distributions (CRDs), with only 1.6% of all eligible savers actually taking a CRD as of the end of June. The monthly CRD utilization rate of CRDs by savers is quite slow but steady.

Education Savings

  • In June, there was 16.5% decrease in the total amount of one-time 529 account contributions based on projections, representing a 4 percentage point improvement over May. This improvement was primarily driven by higher average amounts per one-time contributions made in June. While there may be fewer savers actively making one-time 529 contributions (9.5% less than projections), those who continue to invest in their 529 via one-time contributions are saving at pre-COVID levels.
  • 529 withdrawal activity remains low, with a 29.6% decrease in the number of withdrawals, as schools and students continue to evaluate how their learning environment and expenses might shift in light of the pandemic.

Health and Benefits

  • According to data from Chard Snyder, an Ascensus company, there was a 10.1% increase in the number of COBRA qualifying events March through May. In June, qualifying events returned to 2019 levels.
  • Chard Snyder also reports a 21.1% decrease in debit card transactions from consumer-directed healthcare accounts in March through May. In June, the number of these transactions returned to pre-COVID projections and the average amount per transaction increased over 2019 levels. This trend highlights the pent-up demand by consumers to access healthcare services and leverage these savings.

View and download the complete State of Savings report here.