My Two (Per)cents: How Are American Workers Dealing with the Payroll Tax Hike?

By Basit Zafar, Max Livingston, and Wilbert van der Klaauw

Overall, our analysis suggests that the payroll tax cut during 2011-12 led to a substantial increase in consumer spending and facilitated the consumer deleveraging process. Based on consumers responses to our recent survey, expiration of the tax cuts is likely to lead to a substantial reduction in spending as well as contribute to a slowdown or possibly a reversal in the paydown of consumer debt. These effects are also likely to be heterogeneous, with groups that are more credit and liquidity constrained more likely to be adversely affected. Such nuances may be lost in the aggregate macroeconomic statistics, but theyre important for policymakers to consider as they debate fiscal policy.