American households with savings accounts have a median balance of $7,000 and an average balance of $30,600, according to analysis of data collected by the Federal Reserve in 2016. The median figure gives the best approximation of what most Americans have saved, since the average is heavily skewed by high-income outliers with large deposits. To get a better idea of how much different Americans have put away in their savings accounts, we analyzed the data across different cross-sections and demographics, including age, income, gender and ethnicity.
- The Median and Average Savings Balance in the U.S.
- History of Average Savings Balances in America
- How to Boost Your Savings Balance
The Median and Average Savings Balance in the U.S.
The median savings account balance of $7,000 was calculated from over 6,000 weighted responses to the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances, a triennial survey run by the U.S. Federal Reserve. This figure only reflects responses from households that had active savings accounts at the time of the survey. The weighted average savings account balance was $30,600.
|Year||Median Savings Balance||Average Savings Balance|
The typical American savings account balance has changed substantially over time. While the total amount of savings account deposits has been constantly increasing over time, the distribution of that total has varied widely, as seen in the disparity between average and median savings balance figures above.
Average Savings Account Balance by Income
Unsurprisingly, the median size of household savings account balances was most heavily influenced by income. American households with more income turned out to have much larger savings account balances compared to households in lower income groups.
Households with incomes greater than $160,000 reported a far larger average savings balance than all other groups, likely because of a few extremely high-income outliers. Between 2013 and 2016, almost every income group experienced substantial growth in average savings balances, and all groups saw an increase in their median balance.
U.S. Savings Account Balances by Income, 2013-2016
|Household Income||2016 Average Savings||2013 Average Savings||3-Year Change|
|$25,000 - $44,999||$11,719||$9,565||+23%|
|$45,000 - $69,999||$13,179||$8,932||+48%|
|$70,000 - $114,999||$15,333||$17,305||-11%|
|$115,000 - $159,999||$37,645||$20,925||+80%|
Households in the lowest income bracket were also the ones least likely to have savings accounts at all. Just 28% of those surveyed with an income below $25,000 or less had an active savings account. By comparison, 60% of households making at least $70,000 reported having an open savings account.
Savings Account Balance by Age
Generally, the survey data supported the idea that households with older individuals are likely to have higher savings account balances. The one exception to this trend was a decline in savings at the oldest age group, consisting of households headed by someone 75 or older. This group reported a lower average savings balance than the 65-74 group.
On the other hand, the oldest group did report the highest median savings balance by a small margin. At the other end of the spectrum, households under 35 had the lowest median balance of $2,000 along with the lowest average balance of $8,362. As in other cases, the large difference between average and median balance reflects the presence of high-income outliers in every age bracket.
Savings Account Balance by Gender
When we compared the savings balances of households headed by men with those of households headed by women, we found a large difference. Male-headed households reported average savings of nearly $35,000 while female-headed households reported an average just under $17,000. The difference was even greater in the median balance: $9,200 for male-headed households and $2,500 for female-headed households.
There were other differences between the two groups that may have affected our findings on savings account data. In the survey, 79% of all households were headed by men. In addition, a slightly greater proportion of female-headed households did not have a savings account at all. Over half of all male-headed households in the survey reported having a savings account, compared to just 45% of female-headed households.
Savings Account Balance by Race
According to the data collected by the Federal Reserve in 2016, the average account balance of black and Hispanic households with savings accounts was significantly lower than the averages for non-Hispanic whites and groups classified as "other".
These contrasts among households of different races are likely due to differences in broader economic factors. Income, for instance, may be a major factor in determining the level of savings that a household accumulates. According to the Census Bureau's 2016 data, white non-Hispanic households had a median income of $65,041 while Hispanic and black households had median incomes of $47,675 and $40,065 respectively.
According to the Federal Reserve, the "other" group in the Survey of Consumer Finances consisted of "respondents identifying as Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, other race, and all respondents reporting more than one racial identification". Households classified as "other" had higher average and median savings than any of the three major groups.
Historical Trends in the Average U.S. Savings Account Balance
The total amount of American savings account deposits has been growing ever since the government started collecting data in 1959, but the economic crisis that began in 2008 prompted a sharp uptick in the rate of savings growth.
U.S. savings deposits in December 2008 stood at $4.1 trillion, having grown 29% over the previous 5 years. Over the next 5 years, total savings deposits grew by 74%, reaching about $7.1 trillion in 2013. The increased pace of growth in savings deposits has barely slowed, with the St. Louis Federal Reserve reporting a total of $9.2 trillion in American savings accounts for June 2018.
However, the positive trend in total deposits doesn't necessarily mean that the majority of U.S. households are saving more money. The median savings account balance actually decreased between 2010 and 2007, only resuming growth in 2013. Given that a plurality of households saw their savings decrease, the growth in total savings was likely due to a few households with extremely high savings.
Since 2009, the FDIC has also published a weekly table of national average rates on deposit accounts.
The swift decline in interest rates on savings has not halted or slowed the growth of the savings account balance total in the U.S. Even as the national rate was continuously falling from 2009, when record-keeping began, until settling at 0.06% APY by 2013, the sum of all savings deposits continued to grow at the same pace. As rates begin to rise again, it remains to be seen whether they will be enough to motivate a boost in American saving habits.
How to Boost Your Savings Balance
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