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Who’s Saving Now?

Americans may be saving more in the wake of the Great Recession — that’s the standard explanation for why falling gas prices haven’t translated into other kinds of retail sales. But the best savers aren’t the wealthy, according to a new study by Bankrate.com.

It’s those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 who are socking away the biggest share of their incomes, the survey of 1,000 U.S. adults in early March found. A quarter of those households save more than 15 percent of their income in such forms as a retirement investment plan or an emergency savings account, and 35 percent save more than 10 percent of their incomes.

By comparison, only one in 12 households making less than $50,000 saves 15 percent of their income, and only one in six households making more than $75,000 put away that much. Overall, only 14 percent of households save 15 percent or more, while a total of 24 percent save at least 10 percent of their incomes.

At the other end of the spectrum, almost half of Americans currently save 5 percent or less of their incomes, with 18 percent saving nothing at all and another 28 percent saving something — but no more than 5 percent of what they earn.

The survey also found that adults under age 30 were the most likely to save relatively little, with 37 percent saying they save 5 percent or less of their income. On the other hand, only 18 percent said they save nothing at all — exactly average.

Meanwhile, those age 65 and over form the group with both the highest percentage of households that save more than 15 percent of income, and the highest percentage that save nothing at all.

Low-income households have the highest non-saver rate: 31 percent of households making less than $30,000 a year. Lower-education consumers also save less, with only 16 percent of those who never attended college saving between 6 and 10 percent of their income. That compares with 39 percent of college graduates who save that much.

And by region, it’s those in the western U.S. who are the biggest savers, with 31 percent saving more than 10 percent of their incomes. But they’re also the biggest non-savers, with 19 percent saving nothing at all.

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