America the thrifty. Well, that was short-lived

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“The New Frugality,” declared the cover of Time magazine on April 27, 2009. Just kidding!

The latest figure on the personal savings rate, out this morning from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, show that America’s new-found love of saving money is shaping up to be short-lived. Back in May 2009, we were saving a nearly respectable 6.4% of our disposable income. Plenty of people made bold declarations that this would be the new normal, that we might even make it as high as 8%.

Or maybe not. The savings rate has been dropping fairly steadily since last summer, as you can see in the above chart, from Calculated Risk. The chart shows a three-month trailing average in order to smooth out the data. Today’s new number, for the month of February: 3.1%. That’s down from 3.4% the month before, and 4.0% the month before that.