Residents in These States Used Stimulus Payments on Food, Rent

At least 16% of residents in California, the District of Columbia and Alaska who received stimulus checks — aid that the U.S. Treasury Department began issuing to qualifying workers in March 2020 as businesses closed en masse due to the coronavirus pandemic — reported using them on rent between Jan. 20 and Feb. 1, according to a U.S. News analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Weekly Pulse Survey data. In California, more than one-fifth of respondents said their stimulus payments were used for rent, while close to 18% of D.C. residents said the same.

Data indicates the prevalence of using stimulus payments to buy food was even greater. More than 39% of respondents in Kentucky reported using their stimulus payments on food. In the next leading states — Mississippi and Hawaii — close to 37% and 35% of respondents, respectively, reported buying food with their payments.

The data is consistent with indicators that despite an ongoing economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to file new weekly jobless claims. Nearly 800,000 jobless claims were filed during the week ending Feb. 6, and overall unemployment fell by only 0.4% during January.

In the 10 states with the highest percentage of stimulus payments used for rent, at least 13% of respondents reported using the cash for housing. The states are geographically diverse, and include Delaware, New Jersey, New York on the East Coast, as well as Alaska, California and Oregon on the West Coast. On average, more than 15% of respondents in these states used their stimulus payments for rent.

More than 17% of respondents in Washington, D.C., also reported using their stimulus payments on rent. And respondents in Nevada — another state with high percentages of stimulus payments going to rent — reported a likelihood of eviction or foreclosure.

The average percentage of respondents who bought food with their stimulus payments in the 10 leading states for that category was notably higher: slightly more than 35%. The five states with the highest percentage of respondents who reported purchasing food with their stimulus payments were Kentucky (39%), Mississippi (37%), Hawaii, Alaska and Delaware (35% each).

These states are likewise geographically diverse, including Kentucky and Mississippi in the South, Delaware and New York on the East Coast, and California on the West Coast. Notably, respondents in Kentucky, Alaska and New Mexico — all of whom were in the leading states for food purchases with stimulus payments — also expressed high rates of concern about food scarcity.

State Used Stimulus on Rent
California 20.79%
Alaska 16.26%
New Jersey 15.74%
Nevada 15.50%
New York 15.13%
Oregon 14.82%
Hawaii 13.81%
New Mexico 13.69%
Delaware 13.19%
Georgia 13.02%
State Used Stimulus on Food
Kentucky 39.43%
Mississippi 36.95%
Hawaii 35.40%
Alaska 35.20%
Delaware 34.61%
New Mexico 34.36%
California 34.25%
New York 33.93%
Nevada 33.61%
Illinois 33.34%

More from U.S. News

Biden Says Action on COVID-19 Stimulus Needed ‘Now’

California Governor Proposes $600 Pandemic Stimulus for Low-Income Residents

New York Governor Boosts Sports Betting, Cannabis to Help Pandemic-Battered Economy

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