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RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION
MORNING PAPERS
AUG 1 2 1949
Board of Governors of the 1 9 4 9 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES *
Federal Reserve System
PART IV. Consumer Ownership and Use of Liquid Assets
Aggregate consumer holdings of liquid assets
increased slightly during 1948, completing nearly
a decade of substantial growth. According to estimates compiled by the Board of Governors from
over-all Treasury and banking statistics, total personal holdings of liquid assets (i.e., United States
Government bonds and savings and checking accounts but excluding some 20 billion dollars of
currency) amounted to approximately 132 billion
dollars at the end of 1948, contrasted with an estimated 130 billion a year earlier and with only 45
billion at the beginning of the war period.
1
This is the fourth in a series of articles presenting the
results of the Board of Governors' Survey of Consumer
Finances in 1949. The first two articles appeared in the
June BULLETIN and covered the general financial position
and economic outlook of consumers, their durable goods
expenditures in 1948, and buying plans for 1949. The
third article, in the July BULLETIN, analyzed the distribution of consumer incomes in 1948. A discussion of the
technical aspects of the survey and the statistical limitations
of its results was provided in the appendix to the first article.
Subsequent issues of the BULLETIN will contain articles on
consumer ownership of nonliquid assets and consumer saving patterns during 1948.
From the Board of Governors, general supervision of the
survey has been under the direction of Woodlief Thomas,
Director, and Ralph A. Young, Associate Director, of the
Division of Research and Statistics. The Division of Research
and Statistics has responsibility for planning the over-all
content of the survey, analyzing survey results for the Board's
use, and preparing the special articles reporting survey
findings that appear in the BULLETIN.
From the University of Michigan, Rensis Likert, Director
of the Institute of Social Research, and Angus Campbell,
Director of the Survey Research Center, were in general
charge of the survey. The Survey Research Center is a
division of the Institute for Social Research of the University
of Michigan. Responsibility for detailed planning and
supervision of the survey, including interviewing, editing,
tabulation of survey results, and preparation of Survey
Research Center studies was carried by George Katona in
collaboration with Janet A. Fisher and James K. Dent of
the Survey Research Center's staff. Charles F. Cannell served
as head of the field staff and Roe Goodman as head of
the sampling section of the Center.
The present article was prepared by Clarke L. Fauver and
Irving Schweiger of the Consumer Credit and Finances
Section of the Board's Division of Research and Statistics.
The authors have necessarily maintained a close working
relationship with the staff of the Survey Research Center
at all stages of their work, and their analysis of survey
tabulations has had the benefit of many suggestions from
the Center's staff, particularly George Katona and Janet A.
Fisher.




The findings presented in this article provide
statistical information based on the 1949 Survey of
Consumer Finances regarding distribution of liquid
assets among the population in early 1949, purposes
for which they were drawn upon during 1948, and,
by comparison with previous surveys, changes in
liquid asset distribution among various groups of
the population. This article is the fourth in a series
presenting results of the Board's fourth annual Survey of Consumer Finances, conducted for the Board
of Governors of the Federal Reserve System by the
Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan.2
As in the case of previous Surveys of Consumer
Finances made for the Board, the present survey
covered, on a sample basis, the entire population of
the United States residing in private households
during the January-March interview period. The
following groups were omitted: (1) members of
the armed forces and civilians living at military
reservations; (2) residents in hospitals and in religious, educational, and penal institutions; and (3)
the floating population, that is, people living in
hotels, large boarding houses, and tourist camps.
The interview unit was the consumer spending
unit, defined as all persons living in the same
dwelling and related by blood, marriage, or adoption who pooled their incomes for their major items
of expense.
Before discussing the detailed findings of the
survey, it should be noted that the definition of
"liquid assets" in this article is an arbitrary one
and comparatively narrow in scope. The fact that
2
Previous surveys were made for the Board of Governors
early in 1948 and 1947 by the Survey Research Center and
the results of those surveys were reported in the June, July,
and August issues of the BULLETIN for those years. One
additional article on the 1948 survey appeared in the
September BULLETIN. The first survey was made for the
Board of Governors early in 1946 by the Division of
Program Surveys, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, U. S.
Department of Agriculture. The Survey Research Center
staff currently in charge of the survey work was associated
with the Division of Program Surveys at the time of the
first survey. Results of that survey were reported in the
June, July, and August 1946 issues of the BULLETIN under
the general title National Survey of Liquid Assets.

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
some spending units have been found to lack these
specific types of assets cannot be taken to indicate
that they are without resources of any kind. Most
important is the omission of currency, for practically all spending units would have some holdings
in this form. Many spending units have considerable cash values in life insurance policies which can
be drawn upon. Further, the equities which many
families have in their houses also provide a substantial financial reserve. Other spending units
may have their funds invested in common stocks
or bonds or other media which could be converted
into liquid form if necessary. In summary, then,
the following analysis of the liquid asset position
of consumer spending units should be considered
in the light of other assets which the majority of
these units have.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS ON LIQUID ASSETS

1. Approximately 36 million of the 50.4 million spending units in the United States are estimated to have had some type of liquid asset in the
form of United States Government bonds, of savings and checking accounts in banks, of postal
savings, or of shares in savings and loan associations in early 1949. While it cannot be stated with
certainty that the number of liquid asset holders
increased during 1948, it is apparent from data in
successive surveys that the total number of holders
has risen about 1 million in the past three years.
2. The proportion of all spending units that hold
liquid assets has gradually dropped from 76 per
cent in 1946 and 1947 to 71 per cent at the time
the current survey was made early this year. Accompanying an increase in the total number of
spending units during the past three years, the
number without any liquid assets has increased
at a somewhat faster rate than the number of asset
holders.
3. The proportion of spending units holding
Government bonds dropped from approximately 48
per cent in early 1948 to 45 per cent at the beginning of this year. During the postwar period the
proportion of bondholders has declined from
roughly 6 in every 10 spending units to 4% in every
10. The proportions of spending units holding
other specific types of liquid assets showed little
or no change during 1948.
4. As in previous surveys, the proportion of
spending units having liquid assets was larger in




the higher income groups than in the lower income
groups. About half the units in the lowest fifth
of the income scale (income under $1,500) reported
having such assets in early 1949; in the middle fifth
(income between $2,400 and $3,200) the proportion
was 7 of every 10; and in the highest fifth (income
of $4,500 or more) better than 9 of every 10 spending units reported having some kind of liquid asset.
There were some indications that a slightly larger
proportion of spending units in the lower third
of the income scale held liquid assets early in 1949
than in early 1948, while the reverse was true for
units in the upper two-thirds of the income scale.
5. The median amount of liquid assets held by
all spending units was smaller at the beginning
of 1949 than it was a year earlier. The middlemost of all spending units when arranged in order
of the amount of their holdings reported having
$300 in United States Government bonds or in
savings and checking accounts in early 1949. When
only units having liquid assets were considered,
the median holding was $790. Comparable figures
for early 1948 are $350 for all spending units and
$820 for those with liquid assets.
6. It is estimated that nearly 30 million spending
units had changes in their liquid asset holdings during 1948. In roughly one-fifth of the cases the increase or decrease in total holdings amounted to
$500 or more.
7. About 13 million spending units added to
their Government bonds, savings accounts, or checking accounts during the year; more than 16 million, or about one-third of all spending units,
reduced their holdings in 1948. These figures follow closely the findings of the preceding survey
with respect to changes during 1947.
8. Comparison of data obtained from successive
surveys confirms the conclusion, derived from
Treasury and banking statistics and quoted before,
that aggregate personal holdings of liquid assets did
not change substantially from the beginning of 1948
to the beginning of 1949. This relative stability
in aggregates was, however, the result of both very
large withdrawals from and additions to liquid
asset holdings. If only those spending units are
considered who had smaller amounts of liquid assets
at the beginning of 1949 than at the beginning of
1948, their aggregates appear to be approximately
15 billion dollars lower than a year earlier. This
sum of reductions for 1948 appears to be similar

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
to that in 1947 but larger than that in 1946.
9. Roughly 3 million consumer units either exhausted their liquid assets during 1948 or were
newly formed spending units that had not yet acquired liquid assets. At the same time, however,
there were at least as many units, and perhaps a
few more, that became liquid asset holders during
the year or were newly formed units that reported
holdings for the first time.
10. An emergency, such as sickness, was mentioned by nearly half of the spending units that
reduced their liquid asset holdings during 1948.
The purchase of an automobile or some other
durable good was mentioned by about the same
proportion of these spending units. Expenditures for nondurable consumer goods and services,
including general living expenses, were cited as reasons by about one-third of all spending units. In
terms of the amounts of liquid assets used, however,
funds drawn by individual spending units for investment in a house or other real estate, in securities, or in a business, and for the purchase of automobiles and other durable goods were usually much
larger than amounts used for nondurable consumer
goods and services.
11. Ranking of all spending units either by size
of income or by amount of liquid asset holdings
shows no significant change in the relative proportions held by each tenth of the spending units
early in 1948 and 1949, respectively. While
similar comparisons with any prewar year are
impossible, and notwithstanding some evidence
of a slight postwar increase in the share held by
the top third of the units, there is reason to believe
that the current record total of liquid assets is more
widely distributed than were much smaller aggregate amounts before the war.
DISTRIBUTION OF LIQUID ASSETS IN EARLY

1949

The amounts of liquid assets held by individual
spending units varied greatly in early 1949, as would
be expected, but the over-all distribution did not
differ substantially from the pattern of the two
preceding years. Despite the fact that the "proportion of spending units having no liquid assets appears to have increased somewhat during 1948
(from 27 per cent to 29 per cent), there is ample
evidence that liquid asset holdings are still broadly
distributed. The proportion of spending units that
held liquid assets was slightly smaller at the begin-




ning of 1949 than a year earlier (71 per cent compared to 73 per cent), but inasmuch as the total
number of spending units has continued to increase
it is probable that the number of units with some
liquid assets was at least as large at the beginning
of this year as at the start of 1948. It is estimated
that approximately 36 million consumer spending
units held United States Government bonds or
had savings accounts or checking accounts at the
beginning of this year. This is roughly 1 million
more spending units than had some liquid assets
in early 1946.
As indicated in Table 1, somewhat more than
one-fourth of all spending units had no liquid assets in early 1949, one-sixth had less than $200
each, one-fourth had from $200 to $999, and about
one-third had $1,000 or more. It should again
be noted that holdings of currency are not included
in these liquid asset tabluations.
TABLE

1

DISTRIBUTION OF SPENDING U N I T S , BY SIZE OF LIQUID ASSET
HOLDINGS, EARLY 1949,

1948,

AND 1947

X

[Per cent]
Amount of liquid assets held 2
None
$1-$199
$200-$499
$5OO-$999
$l,000-$l,999
$2,000-$2,999
$3,000-$4,999
$5,000-$9,999
$10,000 and over
All units

29
16
13
11
11
5
7
5
3

1948

1947

27
IS
13
12
12
6
6
5
4

24
14
12
14
14
7
7
5
3

100

100

100

Median holdings of all units

$300

$350

$470

Median holdings of those with assets.

$790

$820

$890

1

Liquid asset data represent holdings early in the years indicated
and are based on interviews during January, February, and early
March.
2
Includes all types of U. S. Government bonds, checking accounts, and savings accounts in banks, postal savings, and shares
in savings and loan associations and credit unions. Excludes
currency holdings. Data for 1949 do not include shares in credit
unions but these are relatively small in the aggregate and not
likely to affect totals significantly.

The substantial rise since the end of the war
in the number of spending units in the population
has been reflected in an increased number of liquid
asset holders as well as in an increased number
of units having no liquid assets.
In terms of numbers, it can be roughly estimated
that about 16 million spending units held at least
$1,000 in liquid assets at the beginning of 1949.
This was about equal to the number of units having

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
this amount of liquid assets in early 1948 but was
approximately 1 million greater than the number
in early 1946. The size of the group having less
than $1,000 in liquid assets has remained practically
unchanged in this three-year period. On the other
hand, the number of spending units having no
liquid assets has grown from somewhat more than
11 million at the beginning of 1946 to about 14.5
million in early 1949.
These developments indicate that the record volume of consumer liquid assets at the beginning
of 1949 was available to at least as many consumers
as ever before to reinforce their demands for all
kinds of consumer goods and services, for investments in business and housing, and as "nest eggs"
in case of need. However, in spite of this continued
widespread ownership of liquid assets, an increasing
proportion of the growing potential market for
goods and services does not possess any liquid
assets and therefore may require credit in order
to be able to buy.
For all spending units, including nonholders as
well as holders, the median amount of liquid assets held early this year was $300 as compared
with $350 at the beginning of 1948 and $400
early in 1946. For the 36 million spending units
having liquid assets at the beginning of this year,
the median amount held was approximately $790.
This was about 5 per cent less than at the start
of the preceding year, but about 5 per cent more
than in early 1946.
It is important to note that the median amount
of liquid assets held by those having such resources
at the present time is still as large as, or even
slightly larger than, it was at the end of the war.
This fact assumes added significance when viewed
in the light of a net increase during this period
of roughly 1 million spending units having liquid
assets and also of the record volume of consumer
spending for all kinds of goods and services—particularly for durable goods and housing.
One of the more interesting findings of the
successive surveys in regard to the distribution of
liquid asset holdings is the extent of variation in
the amounts held by spending units within the
same income bracket. These variations are highlighted by the data in Table 2, which were obtained by arranging all spending units in each
income group in the order of the amount of their
liquid asset holdings and then dividing the group




into four equal parts. The table shows, for example, that when the survey was made in early
1949 one-fourth of all spending units with 1948
incomes from $3,000 to $3,999 had no holdings
or total holdings of $10 or less; that one-half of
the units in this income group had less than
$270 in liquid assets and one-half had more than
this amount; and that one-fourth of these spending
units had $1,200 or more in liquid assets. In
nearly every instance the median and quartile
holdings for each income group were somewhat
lower at the beginning of 1949 than at the beginning of 1948.
TABLE

2

DISPERSION OF LIQUID ASSET HOLDINGS W I T H I N INCOME
GROUPS, EARLY

1948 annual money income
before taxes

Under $1,000
$1,000-81,999
$2,000-$2,999
$3,000-$3,999
$4,000-$4,999
$5,000-$7,499
$7,500 and over

1949

Amount of liquid assets 1held by
spending unit at:
First
quartile

Median

$

$

0
0
0
10
100
330
1,600

0
80
150
270
500
1,350
4,500

Third
quartile
$

200
600
850
1,200
1,920
3,670
10,980

1
Figures refer to spending units within each income group
selected as follows:
First quartile—holdings of the spending unit which separates
the fourth with smallest holdings from the upper three-fourths.
Median—holdings of the spending unit which is the mid-point
of the distribution; half of the spending units are below and half
above.
Third quartile—holdings of the spending unit which separates
the fourth with largest holdings from the lower three-fourths.
For comparable 1948 data, see Federal Reserve BULLETIN, July
1948, Table 3, p. 768; for 1947 data, see July 1947 BULLETIN,
Table 9, p. 798. Similar data as published from the 1946 survey
(see BULLETIN for July 1946, Table 5, p. 718) are not strictly
comparable since they include liquid asset holdings in the form
of currency.

The share of total liquid assets held by each
tenth of the nation's spending units, when ranked
either by size of income or by size of their liquid
asset holdings, showed relatively little change during 1948. As shown in Table 3, it is estimated that
the top 10 per cent of all spending units, when
ranked according to income, held 44 per cent of the
liquid assets reported in the survey in 1949.
This was about the same proportion as shown by
the survey early in 1948. The shares of other income segments of the nation's spending units were
likewise about the same as they were a year earlier.
The 40 per cent of the consumer units with incomes
ranging from $2,840 to $6,000 in 1948 accounted
for approximately 33 per cent of the liquid assets

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
TABLE 3
PROPORTION OF LIQUID ASSETS H E L D BY EACH T E N T H OF THE
NATION'S SPENDING U N I T S , W H E N RANKED BY SIZE OF
INCOME, EARLY 1949, 1948, AND 1947

Spending units
ranked according
to annual money
income before
taxes

Highest tenth
Second
Third
Fourth
Fifth
Sixth
Seventh
Eighth
Ninth
Lowest tenth

Percentage of liquid assets hek I:
By each tenth

Cumulative

1949 1 1948 2 1947 3
44
11
9
8
6
6
6
3
4
3

43
14
8
7
5
6
4
4
4
5

1949

1948

1947

39
15
9
7
7
7
5
4
4

44
54
64
71
77
83
89
92
97

43
57
65
72
77
83
87
91
95

39
54
63
70
77
84
89
93
97

3

100

100

100

1
For spending units ranked in order of their 1948 annual incomes
(fourth survey).
2
For spending units ranked in order of their 1947 annual incomes
(third
survey).
3
For spending units ranked in order of their 1946 annual incomes (second survey).
NOTE.—Detailed figures may not add to cumulative figures
because of rounding.

reported in early 1949, and the remaining 50 per
cent of the units held 23 per cent of the total.
It should be noted that changes of slight magnitude from year to year in the shares of the respective income tenths of the spending units cannot be presumed to be statistically significant inasmuch as they could result from sampling variation alone. It can be said, however, that there is
little evidence in the survey to indicate any change
during 1948 in the proportion of total liquid assets
held by the several income tenths.
In general, the proportion of total liquid assets
held by a group of spending units, as well as the
number of spending units within the group having
liquid assets, increased with the size of income
of the group. Nevertheless, as has been true in
each survey to date, many consumer units with
relatively high incomes had no liquid assets and
a sizable number of spending units with low incomes held substantial amounts of such assets.
In trying to evaluate the potential economic
effects of these consumer reserve funds, it is helpful to know the total dollar amount of liquid assets held by the various income groups. Survey
data are of limited value for this purpose inasmuch
as faulty memory or unwillingness to furnish information about liquid asset holdings resulted in a
certain amount of underreporting by spending




units. Instead, Treasury and banking statistics
that indicate aggregate holdings of about 132 billion dollars at the end of 1948 may be roughly adjusted and distributed among the income groupings used in the survey. However, it must be
noted that the estimates based on Treasury and
banking statistics relate to the entire population,
while survey estimates include only those persons
living in private households. Further, the two sets
of data may differ in their classification of individual liquid asset holdings as personal or nonpersonal. Finally, it is necessary to assume that
the data based on Treasury and banking sources
would be distributed percentagewise among the
income tenths in about the same way as data derived from the survey.3
With these qualifications, and after allowing
approximately 5 billion dollars for holdings of
institutional and floating groups not covered by
the survey, it is possible to present a general indication of the distribution of the 127 billion dollars
of liquid assets estimated to be in the hands of
consumer spending units at the beginning of this
year. The 5 million spending units making up
the top 10 per cent of the income receivers (with
annual incomes of $6,000 or more) held roughly
55 billion dollars in the form of United States
Government bonds and savings and checking accounts. The next 20 million spending units making up the remainder of the top half of the income receivers (incomes between $2,840 and
$6,000) accounted for approximately 42 billion
dollars; and the 25 million consumer units in the
lower half of the income distribution (incomes
of less than $2,840) held the balance, amounting
to nearly 30 billion dollars.
Another way of studying the distribution of
liquid assets is to rank all spending units according to the amount of their holdings, as is done
in Table 15 at the end of this article. On this
basis, at the beginning of 1949 the top 10 per cent
of all spending units were found to hold roughly
>wo-thirds of all liquid assets reported in the
survey—or about the same proportion as the top
tenth held early in 1948. Almost no change was
recorded in the share of any of the various tenths
of the spending units during the 12-month period.
3
The Treasury and banking data which were adjusted
and distributed for this purpose were published in the Federal
Reserve BULLETIN, July 1949, pp. 793-94.

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
At the beginning of both 1948 and 1949, about
4 of every 10 spending units held no liquid assets
or at most only nominal amounts of $10 or less.
FREQUENCY OF LIQUID ASSET OWNERSHIP

The proportion of consumer spending units
within each income group that reported having
some liquid assets at the beginning of 1949, as
shown in Table 4, repeats the finding of preceding
surveys that the higher the income the greater
the proportion having liquid assets. More than 3
of every 4 spending units with incomes of $3,000
or more reported some liquid assets, and only in
the lowest income group did the ratio fall below 1
in every 2 units. The proportions of all liquid asset
holders falling within the several income groups
did not vary greatly from the proportions a year
earlier, confirming the conclusion that liquid assets
are still widely distributed among the population.
The only exceptions were in the income range between $2,000 and $4,000, where rather substantial
declines were noted.
Care must be exercised in the interpretation of
this table because the liquid asset holdings at the
beginning of each year are related to the income of
the spending unit in the previous year, and there
has been a steady upward movement in income
distribution since the war. The efTect of this shifting can be compensated to some extent by ranking
all spending units by income in both 1947 and 1948
and then studying comparable portions of the
total population. Table 12 presented at the end
of this article shows the proportion of spending
TABLE

units holding various types of liquid assets, by
income quintiles, in early 1948 and 1949. This
table indicates that for the most part the proportion of liquid asset holders in different income
quintiles changed relatively little. At the beginning
of 1949 units with some liquid assets seemed to be
somewhat more frequent than a year earlier in
the lowest third of the income scale, and slightly
less frequent in the top two-thirds of the distribution.
An important development during 1948 was the
apparent increase in the frequency of liquid asset
holdings by consumer spending units in the lower
income brackets. Inasmuch as the total holdings
of liquid assets among these spending units are
small relative to the aggregate the change was not
sufficient to affect the over-all distribution of total
liquid asset holdings. Nevertheless, more frequent
holding of liquid assets among the lower income
groups would tend to support a broader market
for consumer goods and services.
TYPES OF LIQUID ASSETS HELD

Since the end of the war there have been substantial shifts in the types of liquid assets held
by consumer spending units, as shown in the chart.
In general the proportion of spending units holding
United States Government securities has declined
and the proportion of those having savings and
checking accounts has increased. Changes during
1948 were somewhat less pronounced than in the
earlier postwar years. The proportion that were
Government bondholders continued to decline, al4

SPENDING U N I T S HOLDING VARIOUS T Y P E S OF LIQUID ASSETS, BY INCOME GROUPS, EARLY 1949,

1948,

AND 1947

]

Percentage of spending units in each income group having:
Annual money
income
before taxes

Any liquid asset 2
1949

1948

Under $1,000
$l,000-$l,999
$2,000-$2,999. . . .
$3,000-$3,999
$4,000-$4,999....
$5,000-$7,499
$7,500 and over. .

44
59
65
78
87
94
99

44
59
73
83
90
97
99

All units

71

73

U. S. Government bonds 3

Savings accounts 4

Checking accounts

1949

1948

1947

1949

1948

1947

1949

1948

1947

49
65
80
89
92
100
100

21
32
42
48
58
64
78

22
34
49
56
61
69
86

25
44
62
69
77
86
91

25
32
42
51
52
60
64

22
34
43
55
58
67
73

26
37
50
60
62
69
69

19
28
28
37
48
71
92

24
24
33
41
50
69
86

21
30
30
39
56
72
89

76

45

48

56

44

46

47

39

39

37

1947

1
Liquid asset data represent holdings early in the year indicated and are based on interviews during January, February, and early
March.
For comparable data for 1946, see Federal Reserve BULLETIN for July 1948, Table 2, p. 768.
2
Includes
all types of U. S. Government bonds, savings accounts, and checking accounts.
3
Includes
all types of U. S. Government bonds.
4
Includes savings accounts in banks, postal savings, and shares in savings and loan associations. Data for 1948 and 1947 also include shares in credit unions.




1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
though at a less rapid rate than in the two preceding
years. The proportion of spending units having
savings accounts also declined slightly for the second
year in a row, following a sharp increase in these accounts from 1946 to 1947. The frequency of checking accounts among spending units remained
unchanged.
PER CENT OF
SPENDING UNITS

OWNERSHIP OF LIQUID ASSETS
EARLY 1949, 1948, 1947

100

1949 1948 1947
8 0

L.

ANY LIQUID
ASSET

SAVINGS
ACCOUNTS
CHECKING
ACCOUNTS

NOTE.—For sources and coverage of data, see Table 4.

The most popular single form of liquid asset was
still United States Government bonds, although
their margin over savings accounts of various kinds
was narrowed still further. Early in 1949, approximately 45 per cent of all spending units held
Government bonds as compared to 44 per cent
with some type of savings account and 39 per cent
with checking accounts. It was still true, as shown
in Table 4, that the percentage of the spending
units in each income group owning Government
bonds was about as great as the percentage owning
any other type of liquid asset.
The distribution of Government bonds and savings accounts among different income groups continues to be similar to the distribution of total
holdings of liquid assets. In each case, the proportion of holders increases gradually as income rises.
Checking accounts are much more frequent among
spending units with incomes of $5,000 or more
than they are at lower income levels.
As indicated previously, the decline in proportion of spending units that were Government
bondholders was not as sharp during 1948 as in




the two preceding years, according to survey results.
Nearly half of all spending units continued to have
some of these securities. Tables 11 and 12 following
this article show that reductions in holdings were
relatively uniform for larger and smaller holders.
It should be noted that changes of small magnitude
cannot be considered statistically significant.
The frequency with which consumer spending
units reported having savings accounts of various
kinds has declined consistently during the past
two years, after increasing sharply from 1946 to
1947. As shown in Table 4, the proportion of
units who reported having savings accounts in
banks or postal savings, or shares invested in
savings and loan associations, was lower in each
income group at the beginning of 1948 than early
in 1947. With the exception of spending units
with incomes of less than $1,000, the same was
true from early 1948 to the time of the survey
in early 1949.
Increases and decreases in the frequency of checking accounts were almost equally divided among
the various income groups. In general, slightly
larger proportions of units having such accounts
were found in the upper income brackets, and
slightly smaller proportions at lower income levels.
CHARACTERISTICS OF LIQUID ASSET HOLDERS

Each survey has revealed characteristics of
liquid asset holders, through classification of spending units holding such assets by age, place of residence, and occupation of the head of the spending
unit as well as by the size of the unit. Analysis of
these characteristics is useful in understanding the
accumulation and use of these liquid resources.
Differences among occupational groups in the
amounts of liquid assets held are summarized in
Table 5. Professional and business people held
relatively large amounts, on the average, and few
spending units where the principal income earner
follows one of these occupations were without
some liquid assets. Clerical and sales personnel
generally had moderate amounts of liquid assets,
with the majority holding amounts of less than
$1,000. The proportion of units having some
liquid assets among this occupational group was
relatively high—about 5 of every 6.
The proportion of skilled and semiskilled workers with liquid assets was somewhat smaller
(roughly 2 of every 3) and their holdings were

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
TABLE 5
SIZE OF LIQUID ASSET HOLDINGS WITHIN DIFFERENT OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS, EARLY 1949

AND 1948

1

[Per cent]
Occupational group of head of spending unit
Amount of total
liquid assets
held 2

None
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
$2,000-$4,999
$5,000 and over
All units

Professional

Managerial
and selfemployed

Skilled
and semiskilled

Clerical
and sales
personnel

Unskilled

Farm
operator

Retired

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

1948

9
27
26
19
19

6
23
28
24
19

12
25
21
22
20

11
21
26
18
24

30
32
23
10
5

27
34
23
12
4

16
38
29
10
7

17
32
31
14
6

51
27
14
5
3

53
26
15
5
1

28
23
24
13
12

28
22
28
12
10

30
22
15
19
14

38
17
19
10
16

100

100

100

Median asset holdings. $1,100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

$1,350

$1,300

$1,400

$200

$250

$400

$500

0

0

$460

$500

3

()

(3)

1
Liquid asset data for early 1949 are based on interviews in January-March 1949 (fourth survey); for 1948 on interviews in January
March
1948 (third survey).
2
Includes all U. S. Government bonds, savings accounts, and checking accounts.
3
Data not available.

any other occupational group. The unskilled group
again had the smallest percentage of holders of
United States savings bonds, while farm operators
had the smallest percentage of spending units with
savings accounts. Checking accounts were more
frequent among the professional, managerial, and
self-employed, and farm operator groups than
among other groups. At least two-thirds of the
spending units in each of these classifications had
such accounts, compared with two-fifths or less for
the other groups. The type and size of liquid asset
holdings within the different occupational groups
is shown in Table 13 following this article.
Variations in the amount and frequency of liquid
asset holdings according to other characteristics such
as age, place of residence, and size of the spending
unit are set forth in Table 16 on page 16. The
age of the head of the unit appeared to be an important factor in differences in liquid asset holdings.
The highest proportions of those having some liquid
assets were found in the age brackets from 45-64.
Nonholders were most frequent where the heads
of the units were in either the youngest or oldest
age groups. Age was also an important factor in
the size of liquid asset holding; the older the principal income receiver, the larger the reserve of
liquid assets appeared to be.
Spending units in metropolitan areas generally
had somewhat larger liquid asset holdings than
spending units in other urban areas or in rural
areas. Thus, the proportion of spending units

also smaller than those of the clerical and sales
group. About three-fourths of the farm operators
and roughly two-thirds of the persons who had
retired from active work had some liquid assets,
and holders in these groups had fairly sizable
amounts.
Changes from early 1948 to early 1949 in the
proportion of spending units within various occupational groups that held liquid assets were smaller
than they had been in the preceding 12-month
period. As shown in Table 5, the percentage of
spending units that had no assets increased slightly
in professional and managerial and self-employed
groups, as well as in skilled and semiskilled groups.
On the other hand, the proportion of units that held
some liquid resources appeared to have increased
slightly among clerical and sales personnel, unskilled workers, and retired persons. The occupational distributions of liquid asset holdings shown
in this table for both early 1949 and 1948 should
be considered only as rough guides to the true distribution of these holdings as well as to changes
in their distribution. The number of sample cases
for some of the separate occupations is small, and
the possibility of variations arising from the sample
drawn in each year is therefore substantial.
Differences in the types of liquid assets held by
various occupational groups such as have been noted
in previous surveys continued in early 1949. Professional persons had about as large a group holding each type of liquid asset as was the case for




8

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
with holdings of $500 or more was about one-half
in metropolitan areas compared with roughly twofifths in other areas. Nearly 80 per cent of the
spending units in metropolitan areas had some kind
of liquid asset, compared with approximately 70
per cent of those living in other urban areas and
65 per cent of those in rural areas.
In early 1949 the size of the spending unit was
not closely related to the holding of liquid assets,
except that units with five or more persons reported
having no assets more frequently than did smaller
units. Also, somewhat larger amounts of liquid
assets were held by smaller units than by larger
units.

among the higher income brackets toward somewhat greater frequency of both increases and decreases in liquid asset holdings, partly because a
larger proportion of the higher income groups are
liquid asset holders. In every group with incomes
up to $5,000, decreases in assets were somewhat
more frequent than increases. Only in the income
groups below $2,000, however, was the number
of declines in holdings substantially higher than
the number of increases.
The proportions of those spending units owning
each type of liquid asset that reported either increases or decreases in holdings during 1948 showed
almost the same pattern as that noted from early
1947 to early 1948. Larger balances in both savings
accounts and checking accounts were reported with
slightly greater frequency than larger holdings of
Government bonds. About one-third of all spending units with savings accounts and one-fourth of
those with checking accounts noted increased balances, while slightly more than one-fifth of the
Government bondholders reported higher total
holdings at the beginning of 1949 than they had a
year earlier.
On the decrease side, the relative position of
the different types of assets was somewhat reversed.
Only about one-fourth of the Government bondholders said they had reduced their holdings during
the year, while about one-third of the spending
units with checking accounts, and one-half of those
with savings accounts, indicated they had reduced
these balances during 1948. As in 1947, the amounts
of increase or decrease were larger in the case of
savings and checking accounts than in the case of
Government bonds.

CHANGES IN LIQUID ASSET HOLDINGS DURING 1948

During 1948, as in the earlier years covered by
the surveys, a substantial portion of all individual
consumer spending units had important changes
in their liquid asset holdings. It is estimated that
nearly 30 million spending units had changes in
their liquid asset positions during 1948. In roughly
one-fifth of the cases these increases or decreases
in total holdings amounted to as much as $500 or
more.
As Table 6 indicates, about one-fourth of all units
added to their liquid asset holdings in 1948, while
approximately one-third reported lower totals at the
beginning of 1949 than they did a year earlier.
The remainder said they had no liquid assets in
either year, or that there had been no change in
their holdings. The distribution of the spending units by their 1948 money incomes brings out
some differences between units in the various income brackets. There was a noticeable tendency
TABLE

6

CHANGE IN LIQUID ASSET HOLDINGS OF SPENDING U N I T S WITHIN D I F F E R E N T INCOME GROUPS, 1948

x

Percentage distribution of all spending units within income groups
Change in liquid asset holdings

1948 annual money income before taxes
All

spending
units

Increase
No change 2
Decrease
No liquid assets now or year ago
Not ascertained
All units
1

Under
$1,000

$1,000$1,999

$2,000$2,999

$3,000$3,999

$4,000$4,999

$5,000$7,499

$7,500
and over

7
14
26
50
3

19

24

31

33

15
32
23
4

16
28
34
3

16
30
27
3

13
36
15
5

17
37
10
3

38

38

100

100

100

100

100

100

26

16
37
3
6
100

19
34
1
8
100

Based on liquid asset holdings in early 1949 and a year earlier as reported by spending units during January-March 1949.
"Includes change in assets due solely to accrual of interest on U. S. Government bonds (Series A-F).




1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
The survey also provides some information on
the spending units that exhausted their liquid assets
during 1948 (or at least had none at the beginning
of 1949) and on those that acquired liquid asset balances. There were approximately 3 million consumer spending units in early 1949 that either had
exhausted their liquid assets during the year, or
were newly formed spending units that had not yet
acquired such resources. At the same time, however, there were at least as many units, and possibly
as many as a half million more units, that reported
holdings at the beginning of 1949 that did not
have them a year earlier. These included some
additional units formed during the year and some
units that did not have such assets at the start
of 1948.
Table 7 indicates that roughly three-fourths of all
the spending units that exhausted their liquid assets
were in the income range of $1,000 to $3,999, but
that some cases were found at every income level.
Also, three-fourths of those who had no liquid assets
early in 1948 but did have some at the beginning
of this year fell in the income range of $1,000 to
$3,999. Again, however, the distribution included
some at the lowest as well as some at the highest
income levels.
Increases and decreases in liquid assets during
1948 appeared to bear some relationship to changes
in income during the same period. Decreases in
holdings were substantially more frequent than in-

creases among spending units whose 1948 incomes
were smaller than they had been in the preceding
year. Even among spending units whose incomes
were about the same in both years, or even slightly
larger in 1948 than in 1947, the proportion having
decreases in liquid assets was somewhat larger than
the proportion having increases. Where the spending units reported much larger incomes in 1948
than in the preceding year, increases in liquid assets
were more frequent than decreases.
In survey reports for prior years, it has been
pointed out that there appears to be a tendency
for spending units to overstate declines in liquid
asset holdings and to understate increases. The
data on changes are obtained by asking the heads
of the spending units about the amount of their
holdings at the time of the interview and a year
previous to that time. Memory "error" may play an
important part in these calculations. For the first
time in these surveys, an attempt was made to have
respondents check their records. This first attempt
was only partly successful because less than onefifth of the units actually referred to their records.
The memory error, therefore, probably introduces
considerable bias in the data on changes in holdings.
Furthermore,, it is doubtful whether interest credit
on savings accounts is adequately reflected in the
increases in liquid assets during the year. Consequently, both the number and the amount of
additions to holdings may be understated.

TABLE 7

PURPOSES FOR WHICH LIQUID ASSETS WERE USED
IN 1948

INCOME DISTRIBUTION OF SPENDING UNITS ACQUIRING OR

Each of the surveys has attempted to find out
the purposes for which people use funds withdrawn from their liquid assets. This line of inquiry has been limited to those spending units
that had smaller liquid asset holdings at the end
of the year than they had at the beginning, and
the group thus queried in 1948 included roughly
1 in every 3 spending units. Because the general
nature of the question asked in prior years had
provoked rather general answers, the 1949 survey
included two additional questions. This procedural
change makes comparisons with preceding years
somewhat difficult, but provides a fuller account
of the purposes for which such resources were actually used in 1948. This was especially true for
spending units that drew down liquid asset resources for a number of purposes.

EXHAUSTING THEIR LIQUID ASSETS DURING 1948 *

[Per cent]

Income group

Spending
units that
exhausted
liquid
assets 2

Under $1,000. .
$1,000-$ 1,999. .
$2,000-$2,999..
$3,000-$3,999. .
$4,000-$4,999. .
$5,OOO-$7,499. .
$7,500 and over
Not ascertained
All units...

100

1

Liquid asset data are based on interviews made in JanuaryMarch 1949. Respondents were asked about their holdings of
liquid assets at the time of the interview and also their holdings
a year earlier. These data are based on relatively few cases and
represent
only rough approximations.
2
Includes newly formed spending units having no liquid
assets
at
beginning
of 1949.
3
Less than one-half of 1 per cent.




10

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
TABLE

8

PURPOSE OF REDUCTION IN LIQUID ASSETS DURING

Purpose

Emergencies and sickness
Automobiles and other durable goods
Nondurable consumer goods and services *
Repairs and additions to house
Luxuries and travel
Education, moving, and other miscellaneous expenses
Buying of home
Investment in other real estate, securities, or in
business
Farm expenses and farm machinery
Repair of automobile and other durable g o o d s . . . .
Payment of debts
Unclassified purposes

1948

Percentage
distribution
of spending
units that
reduced
liquid assets
49
47
32
16
13
13
11

5
4
12

All units

that gave several purposes. The discussion which
follows, and the data shown in Tables 9 and 10,
are based on this regrouping of the spending
units. The footnotes in Table 9 indicate the
purposes included under each major classification.
Slightly less than half ol all spending units
reporting a net decline in liquid assets from early
1948 to early 1949 used the proceeds exclusively
for nondurable consumer goods and services (including sickness and other emergencies). As Table
9 shows, about one-tenth said they had used their
liquid assets for the purchase of automobiles and
other durable goods and another tenth pointed to
the purchase of a house or other permanent investments or repayment of debt. Because of the
more detailed questions this year regarding the

1
Includes general living expenses,
2
More than 100 per cent because some spending units mentioned
several purposes.

When consumers are asked why they accumulate
assets of this type, the traditional answer is "for a
rainy day." The reason given most frequently for
drawing down liquid asset balances during 1948
tends to bear this out. As shown in Table 8, nearly
half of the units that had smaller amounts of liquid
asset holdings early in 1949 than a year earlier gave
sickness or other incidents of an emergency character as one of their explanations. Almost equally
important, however, was the purchase of an automobile or other durable good. Expenditures for
nondurable consumer goods and services (including
general living costs) were mentioned by about onethird of all these spending units.
Repairs and additions to houses were listed by
about one-sixth of the spending units whose liquid
assets were reduced during 1948. This response,
together with the fact that about one-eighth of the
units indicated that their assets were used in connection with the purchase of a house, indicates
that housing expenditures were an important outlet for these liquid funds. Other items of expenditure of some significance included education and
moving, and investments in real estate other than
houses, in securities, and in different types of business.
To summarize the dollar volume of expenditures
for these various purposes, it was necessary to consider separately units that gave only one reason for
drawing down their liquid balances and those




TABLE

9

PURPOSES OF REDUCTION IN LIQUID ASSETS BY SPENDING
U N I T S W I T H I N VARIOUS INCOME GROUPS, 1948

Purpose

Nondurable
consumer
goods and services
(including taxes) 2 . . . .
Automobiles and other
durable goods
Houses and investments 3
Several purposes 4
All units

Net
reduction
(Per
cent)

X

Percentage distribution of
spending units that reduced liquid assets

All
income
groups

Income group
Under
$2,000

$2,000- $5,000
and
$4,999
over

18

45

66

42

28

7
28
47

10
9
36

3
6
25

12
8
38

13
14
45

100

100

100

100

100

1
Only spending units that had smaller amounts of liquid assets
at the beginning of 1949 than at the beginning of 1948 are included
in this table. These units were asked the following question:
"Now adding all that together I find that you now have in bonds
and deposits $
less than you did a year ago. You used
about $
from your savings. Is that about right? What
sort
of
things
did
you
use
this money for?"
2
Includes living expenses, emergencies and sickness, repair of
houses, and other nondurable consumption (repairs of automobiles and other durable goods, purchase of luxury goods, moving,
travel,
amusement, education, and taxes).
3
Includes purchases of real estate, investment .in business or
securities,
and repayment of debt.
4
The distribution of spending units reducing liquid assets
for several purposes is as follows:
Per cent
Nondurable consumer goods, etc., and durable goods
14
Nondurable consumer goods, etc., and houses and investments
3
Durable goods and houses and investments
5
Other combinations
14

Several purposes
For comparable data
July 1948, Table 7, p.
Table 5, p. 654.
NOTE.—The purposes
obtained by condensing

11

36
in 1947, see Federal Reserve BULLETIN,
772; for 1946, see June 1947 BULLETIN,
shown in this table and in Table 10 were
the various purposes shown in Table 8.

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
reasons for reducing liquid asset balances, the
number of units giving several purposes was considerably larger than in previous years. The various combinations indicated in the footnote to this
table again emphasize the use of these funds in
connection with the purchase of automobiles, other
durable goods, houses, and various types of investments, as well as their use for nondurable consumer goods and services.
Various income groups used their liquid assets
in 1948 according to a pattern similar to that of
previous years. Roughly two-thirds of the spending units with incomes of less than $2,000 said they
used their liquid assets to purchase nondurable
consumer goods and services exclusively. Spending units with incomes of $2,000 or more, which
accounted for a substantial majority of all the
spending units that reduced liquid assets and
also for the bulk of the dollar volume involved,
tended to stress such purposes as the purchase
of durable goods, or the purchase of houses and
other investments.
Any estimate of the amount of money spent for
each of the various purposes in 1948 has limited
value because many spending units gave more
than one reason for reducing their liquid asset
balances and did not apportion the expenditures.
An estimated distribution has been calculated from
the replies of those who said their funds were used
for one purpose, or for several purposes, as shown
in the first column and footnote 4 of Table 9, but
should be considered only a rough approximation.
It indicates that about half of the total decrease in
holdings may have been used for the purchase of
houses or for making investments in other real
estate or in businesses or securities. About onefourth may be explained by expenditures for nondurable consumer goods and services (including
sickness and emergencies), and roughly one-fifth
for automobiles and other durable goods.
Table 10 provides further information that relates the size of the decrease in liquid assets to the
purpose for which the funds were used. Threefifths of the spending units reducing liquid assets
for houses and investments used amounts of $1,000
or more. Spending units that had purchased
automobiles and other durable goods generally re-




ported declines of $500 or more in liquid assets.
A substantial portion of the spending units that
reduced liquid assets to obtain nondurable consumer goods and services reported decreases of
less than $200.
T A B L E 10
SIZE OF REDUCTION IN LIQUID ASSETS IN 1948, BY PURPOSE

Percentage distribution of spending units
reducing liquid assets for:

All
purposes

Nondurable
consumer
goods and
services

Automobiles
and
other
durable
goods

Houses
and
investments

Several
purposes

$1-$199
$200-$499
$500-$999
$1,000 and above..

28
27
19
26

43
31
16
10

17
28
31
24

10
18
11
61

15
24
23
38

All spending units
reducing liquid
assets

100

100

100

100

100

Reduction

The sizes of the decreases reported among spending units listing several purposes are more comparable to amounts spent for houses and investments and for automobiles and other durable
goods than for general consumption purposes.
The amounts shown in Table 10 represent the
net decline of the spending unit during 1948.
The actual amounts spent at the time of the purchase may have been larger and have been at
least partly offset by additions to liquid assets during other periods of the year.
Previous survey reports have emphasized that
reduction in liquid asset holdings of a spending
unit during the year does not necessarily imply dissaving. When liquid assets are used to buy a house
or to invest in other real estate, in securities, or in
a business, the funds are merely transferred from
one type of asset to another. On the other hand, if
liquid assets are used for buying consumer goods
and services (which by definition represent expenditures and are not considered assets) the result is
dissaving unless the amounts so used are offset by
saving in other forms (insurance, retirement funds,
repayment of debt, or other such transactions).4

12

*A detailed discussion of consumer saving in 1948 will
appear in a later issue of the BULLETIN.

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
TABLE 11
TYPE AND SIZE OF LIQUID ASSET HOLDINGS WITHIN VARIOUS INCOME GROUPS, EARLY 1949,

1948, AND 1947

x

Percentage distribution of spending units within income groups
Amount of liquid
assets held

All spending units

Under $1,000

$l,000-$2,999

$3,000-$4,999

$5,000 and over

1949

1948

1947

1949

1948

1947

1949

1948

1947

1949

1948

1947

1949

1948

1947

29
28
22
12
9

27
27
24
13
9

24
26
28
14
8

56
24
12
5
3

56
21
14
6
3

51
27
15
5
2

38
29
21
8
4

34
32
23
7
4

27
31
30
9
3

19
35
25
14
7

14
31
30
18
7

10
24
34
24
8

5
17
23
25
30

2
13
24
27
34

0
10
22
27
41

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

56
25
13
6

53
26
14
7

44
32
18
6

80
11
6
3

79
17
2
2

75
19
4
2

63
25
9
3

60
28
9
3

47
37
13
3

49
29
16
6

43
32
19
6

28
36
30
6

34
25
21
20

25
20
30
25

13
21
34
32

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

59
19
13
9

55
19
15
11

53
18
18
11

77
11
9
3

77
9
8
6

74
15
8
3

65
18
11
6

62
20
13
5

56
21
17
6

53
23
14
10

44
24
19
13

39
20
25
16

42
15
21
22

31
15
23
31

31
15
18
36

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

61
23
11
5

61
23
11
5

63
21
12
4

81
11
7
1

77
13
8
2

79
14
6
1

72
19
7
2

72
19
7
2

70
19
9
2

59
28
10
3

56
30
10
4

56
26
14
4

22
36
25
17

25
28
29
18

21
26
30
23

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

2

Total liquid assets:
None
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
$2,000-$4,999
$5,000 and over.. . .
All units
U. S. savings bonds
(Series A-F) ;3
None
$l-$499
$500-$l,999. .
$2,000 and over.. . .
All units
Savings accounts: 4
None
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
$2,000 and over.. . .
All units
Checking accounts:
None
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
$2,000 and over.. . .
All units

1
Liquid asset data represent holdings early in the year indicated and are based on interviews during January, February, and early
March. For comparable 1946 data, see Federal Reserve BULLETIN, July 1948, Table 16, p. 779.
2
Includes all types of U. S. Government bonds, savings accounts, and checking accounts.
3
Amounts for 1949 and 1948 are shown at 80 and 79 per cent of maturity value, respectively, except for recent purchases, which are
shown at purchase price; amounts for 1947 are shown at purchase price.
* Includes savings accounts in banks, postal savings, and shares in savings and loan associations and credit unions.




13

1 9 4 9 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
TABLE 12
TYPE AND SIZE OF LIQUID ASSET HOLDINGS WITHIN VARIOUS INCOME QUINTILE GROUPS, EARLY 1949 AND 1948 *
Percentage distribution of spending units within income quintiles
All spending
units

Amount of liquid assets held

Second
quintile

Lowest
quintile

Third
quintile

Fourth
quintile

Highest
quintile

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

1948

29
28
22
12
9

27
27
24
13
9

51
25
15
6
3

54
21
15
6
4

38
29
22
7
4

37
34
20
5
4

30
31
23
11
5

24
33
28
11
4

17
35
26
14
8

16
33
29
16
6

7
22
23
23
25

4
17
27
25
27

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

56
25
13

76
17
5

79
16
3

63
26
9

51
29
16

46
31
16

44
34
17

36
27
20

30
22
28

2

2

2

61
31
5

58
25
14

6

53
26
14
7

3

3

4

7

5

17

20

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

56
19
14

55
19
15

73
13
9

75
10
8

62
19
13

65
19
12

57
22
12

55
24
15

47
25
16

46
25
17

40
17
20

33
17
23

2

Total liquid assets:
None
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
$2 000-$4 999
$5,000 and over
All units
U. S. savings bonds (Series A-F) :3
None
.
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
. .
$2,000 and over

.

All units
Savings accounts: 4
None
$l-$499
.
$500-$l,999
$2,000 and over

All units..
Checking accounts:
None

$l-$499
$500-$ 1 999
$2,000 and over
All units

. . . .

. .

11

11

5

7

6

4

9

6

12

12

23

27

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

61
23
11
5

61
23
11
5

76
15
8
1

77
13
8
2

74
18
6
2

75
17
6
2

70
21
7
2

65
23
9
3

58
29
10
3

57
29
10
4

29
35
22
14

33
30
24
13

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

1

For each year the size of liquid asset holdings was determined as of the date of interviews in January, February, or early March of
the year indicated. Liquid asset holdings as of early 1949 have been related to 1948 incomes, while asset holdings as of early 1948 have
been related to 1947 incomes. The approximate income ranges covered by each quintile are as follows: for 1948 incomes, lowest quintile
(under $1,500), second quintile ($l,500-$2,399), third quintile ($2,400-$3,199), fourth quintile ($3,200-$4,499), highest quintile ($4,500
and over); for 1947 incomes, lowest quintile (under $1,200), second quintile ($l,200-$2,099), third quintile ($2,100-$2.999), fourth quintile ($3,000-$4,199),
highest quintile ($4,200 and over).
2
Includes all types of U. S. Government bonds, savings accounts, and checking accounts.
3
Amounts for 1949 and 1948 are shown at 80 and 79 per cent of maturity value, respectively, except for recent purchases, which
are shown
at purchase price.
4
Includes savings accounts in banks, postal savings, and shares in savings and loan associations. Data for 1948 also include savings
in shares of credit unions.




14

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
TABLE

13

T Y P E AND SIZE OF LIQUID ASSET HOLDINGS WITHIN D I F F E R E N T OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS, EARLY 1949 AND 1948

x

[Per cent]
Occupational group of head of spending unit

A m o u n t of liquid assets held

U. S. savings bonds
(Series A-F):»
None
. . . .

Professional

Managerial
and selfemployed

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

1948

1949

34

29

46

40

55

54

47

30
19

30
24

28
14

23
21

28
13

29
14

33
15

32
19

17

12

16

4

3

5

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

43

44

54

55

56

55

22

23

14

11

20

23

17
16

15
17

15
19

15
9

14
8

18
7

17
7

7
5

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

32

32

28

31

42
19

39
22

34
23

7

15

100

100

. . . .

$l-$499
$500-$ 1,999
$2,000 and over

17

All units
Savings accounts 3
(in banks only) :
None
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
$2,000 and over

21
14

All units
Checking accounts:
None
$l-$499
$500-$ 1,999
$2,000 and over

7

All units
1
2
3
4

100

Skilled
and semiskilled

Clerical
and sales
personnel
1948

1949

43

72

1949

73

61

1948

1949

1948

57

59

63

23
3

22
10

25
12

6

1

1

7

6

9

10

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

45

50

71

72

83

83

59

67

30

26

17

15

4

5

5
8

5
7

14

6

10
3

12
15

13
14

100

100

100

100

100

100

87

87

37

10
3

9
3

29
22

38

62

64

16
13

14
13

1

12

12

9

9

100

100

100

100

100

74

74

58

59

20
5

20
5

31
9

29
9

1

2

3

100

100

100

100

100

1

1948

Retired

19
8

31
24
14

Farm
operators

Unslcilled

100

20
12

25
25

18
9

Liquid asset data represent holdings early in the year indicated and are based on interviews in January, February, and early March.
Valued at 80 per cent of maturity value except for recent purchases, which are valued at purchase price.
Excludes other savings accounts, such as postal savings and shares in savings and loan associations and credit unions.
Less than one-half of 1 per cent.

TABLE

TABLE 15

14
DISTRIBUTION

PROPORTION OF LIQUID ASSETS H E L D BY SPENDING U N I T S AND
FAMILY U N I T S AT VARIOUS INCOME LEVELS, EARLY 1949 *

OF LIQUID

WHEN RANKED (1)

[Per cent]

ASSETS AMONG

1948 annual money
income before
taxes

Under $1,000
$l,000-$l,999
$2,000-$2,999
$3,000-$3,999
$4,000-$4,999
$5,000-$7,499
$7,500 and over. . . .
All units

Percentage
distribution

Proportion
of liquid
assets
held

AND

1948

Family units
Per
centage
distribution

Percentage of
Percentage of
liquid assets
Spending units
liquid assets
Spending units
ranked according
ranked according
to holdings of
Early1 Early2
to income
liquid assets
Early Early
1949
1948
1949 1948

Proportion
of liquid
assets
held

12
18
23
20
12
10
5

4
7
14
14
11
18
32

11
15
20
20
12
14
8

3
5
10
13
10
22
37

100

100

100

100

Highest tenth. . .
Second
Third
Fourth
Fifth
Sixth
Seventh
Eighth
Ninth
Lowest t e n t h . . . .

1
The 1948 income data and early 1949 liquid assets data are
based on interviews in January-March 1949.
For comparable spending unit and family unit data in early
1948, see Federal Reserve BULLETIN, July 1948, Table 18, p. 780.
For comparable spending unit data in early 1947 and 1946, see
BULLETIN, July 1947, Table 14, p. 801. For comparable family
unit data, see same BULLETIN, Table 18, p. 802.




UNITS

(2)

BY SIZE OF LIQUID ASSET HOLDINGS
EARLY 1949

Spending units

SPENDING

BY SIZE OF INCOME AND

All tenths
1
2
3

15

44
11
9
8
6
6
6
3
4
3
100

43
Highest tenth. . .
14
Second
8
Third
7
Fourth
5 - Fifth
6
Sixth
4
Seventh
4
Eighth
4
Ninth
5
Lowest tenth. . .

66
17
9
5
2
1
3
()
(3)
0
0

66
17
8
5
3
1
(3)
(3)
0
0

All t e n t h s . . . .

100

100

100

For spending units ranked in order of their 1948 a n n u a l incomes.
For spending u n i t s r a n k e d in order of their 1947 annual incomes.
Less t h a n one-half of 1 per cent.

1949 SURVEY OF CONSUMER FINANCES
TABLE 16
TYPE AND SIZE OF LIQUID ASSET HOLDINGS, BY SIZE OF SPENDING UNIT, AGE OF HEAD OF SPENDING UNIT,
AND PLACE OF RESIDENCE, EARLY 1949 *
Percentage distribution of spending units with each charactersstic
Number of persons in spending unit

Age of head of spending unit

Place of residence

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64

65 Metro- Other
and politan urban Rural
over
area area area

Amount of liquid assets held

Total liquid assets: 2
None
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
$2 000-$4,999
$5,000 and over
All units
U. S. savings bonds
(Series A-F):*
None
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
$2,000 and over
All units

One

Two

Three

Four

Five
or
more

28
28
26
10

24
25
24
15

28
29
21
12

26
35
19
12

44
29
14
8

38
38
21
3

30
36
23
7

25
24
23
15

24
21
21
18

8

12

10

8

5

(3)

4

28
31
21
13
7

13

16

15

10

9

8

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

56

51

54

57

68

62

64

56

49

49

57

48

56

64

28
13
3

24
16
9

25
14

7

30
8
5

22
6
4

31
7
(3)

23
11
2

27
11
6

25
17
9

25
15
11

22
12
9

29
16
7

25
13
6

22
9
5

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

52
23
16
9

54
18
17
11

61
19
11
9

64
15
11
10

73
16

56
27
12
5

63
16
13
8

57
17
15
11

59
13
14
14

61
10
14
15

43
25
19
13

62
18
12
8

72
12
9

4

59
26
12
3

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

71
17
9
3

57
24
12
7

57
29
10
4

55
27
12
6

66
21
9
4

83
14
3
(3)

64
28
6
2

55
28
13
4

55
26
12

62
17
14

7

57
20
15
8

7

68
20
8
4

59
26
11
4

56
25
13
6

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

32
18
20
15

22
29
24
15

29
30
20
12

35
27
20
10

6

Savings accounts:
None
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
$2,000 and over
All units

7

Checking accounts:
$l-$499
$500-$l,999
$2,000 and over
All units
1
2
3

Liquid asset data for early 1949 are based on interviews in January, February, and early March 1949.
Includes all types of U. S. Government bonds, savings accounts, and checking accounts.
Less than one-half of 1 per cent.
<
Valued at 80 per cent of maturity value except for recent purchases, which are valued at purchase price.
5
Includes savings accounts in banks, postal savings, and shares in savings and loan associations.




16

7