Dividends By The Numbers For May 2021

May 2021 continued the strong environment of the last few months for the U.S. stock market's dividend payers.

Coins, Currency, Investment, Insurance


The easiest way we've found to measure the relative health of the U.S. stock market is to simply count the number of dividend cuts each month. Since 2012, with the arrival of a large number of variable dividend payers, we've found that if the number of dividend cuts and omissions is below 50 per month, the business environment for the firms listed on the U.S. stock market can be considered relatively healthy. If the monthly number of dividend cut declarations rises above 50, that's a very good indication that recessionary conditions are present within the U.S. economy. We can then can identify which industries are seeing the most distress during those periods by seeing which companies are announcing dividend cuts.

With that threshold in mind, we're now seeing perhaps the strongest environment for dividend paying stocks in the last 10 years, as defined by the relative absence of dividend cuts.

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 - May 2021

Here's the rest of May 2021's dividend metadata, complete with comparison to April 2021 and the year-over-year change from May 2020, which marked the bottom of the coronavirus recession for dividend cuts.

  • 1,853 U.S. firms declared dividends in May 2021, a decline of 166 from the 2,019 recorded in April 2021. That figure is also a decrease of 1,265 from the 3,118 recorded in May 2020.
  • Some 47 U.S. firms announced they would pay a special (or extra) dividend to their shareholders in May 2021, an increase of 8 over the number recorded in April 2021 and an increase of 25 over the 22 recorded in May 2020.
  • Standard and Poor counted 148 U.S. firms announcing dividend rises in May 2021, a decline of 7 from the 155 recorded in April 2021, and an increase of 83 over the 65 recorded in May 2020.
  • A total of 6 publicly traded companies cut their dividends in May 2021, a decline of 10 from the 16 recorded in April 2021 and also a decrease of 108 from the 114 recorded in May 2020.
  • One U.S. firm omitted paying their dividends in May 2021, the same as the number recorded in April 2021. That figure is also a decrease of 152 from the 152 recorded in May 2020.
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