Two-thirds of Americans sat tight financially during pandemic

A majority — 65% — of U.S. individuals did not take financial actions as a result of COVID-19, a study by the Investment Company Institute has found.

The remaining 35% took a variety of actions to cope with the pandemic’s financial hardships, the most common of which was using emergency savings, which was reported by 20% of individuals. Another 18% increased their credit card debt, and 7% reported increasing other debt, excluding loans from 401(k)-type retirement plan accounts.

[More: Retiree debt doubles during pandemic]

Actions that drew on retirement accounts were the least common responses. Only 6% reported taking withdrawals from 401(k)-type retirement plan accounts; 3% took withdrawals from individual retirement accounts; and 3% took loans from 401(k)-type retirement plan accounts.

“The survey findings are consistent with the data ICI has published throughout the pandemic based on actions reported by record keepers to defined contribution retirement plans,” the mutual fund trade group said in a release.

“Together, these two sets of data — the self-reported actions from the survey and the administrative recordkeeper data based on actual DC account activity — contradict claims that large numbers of savers turned to withdrawals or loans from retirement plans in response to COVID-19 financial stress. To the contrary, Americans appear to have placed a high priority on preserving their retirement savings,” ICI said in the release.

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