Japan’s savings rate rose to its highest level in two decades, as anxiety over the pandemic and the economic outlook appeared to encourage people to pocket cash handouts from the government instead of spending them.

On average, people saved 44 percent of their income in the five months through August this year, up from 33 percent in the same period last year, according to household spending data released Friday by the internal affairs ministry.

Higher savings rates means less spending, which is bad for the country’s overall recovery. Private consumption accounts for more than half the economy and a rebound is especially important with the virus hitting exports markets even harder than Japan.