Poll: Four in 10 Americans still feel the economic pain of the pandemic | Business and economic news
About four in 10 Americans say they are still feeling the financial impact of losing a job or household income, as the economic recovery remains uneven a year after the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
A new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research provides further evidence that the pandemic has been devastating for some Americans, while leaving others virtually unscathed or even in better shape, at least as far as concerns their finances. The outcome often depended on a person’s type of job and income level before the pandemic.
The pandemic has particularly affected black and Latino households, as well as young Americans, some of whom are currently going through the second major economic crisis of their adulthood.
“I just felt like we were already in a more difficult position, so [the pandemic] sort of threw us even more in the dust, ”said Kennard Taylor, a 20-year-old black student at Jackson College. Taylor lost her job as a waiter in the campus cafeteria in the first weeks of the pandemic and struggled to pay rent and the car while continuing her education. He had to move with his family.
The poll shows that about half of Americans say they experienced at least some form of loss of household income during the pandemic, including 25% who experienced a layoff and 31% who say a household member was scheduled for less hours. Overall, 44% said their household had suffered a loss of income due to the pandemic which still impacted their finances.
The survey results are consistent with recent economic data. About 745,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits the week of February 22, according to the US Department of Labor, and about 18 million Americans remain on unemployment lists.
Thirty percent of Americans say their current household income is lower than it was at the start of the pandemic, while 16 percent say it is higher and 53 percent say there is has been no change. About half of those who suffered some form of loss of household income during the pandemic say their current household income is lower than it was.
The poll results reflect what some economists have called a “K-shaped recovery,” where there have been divergent fortunes among Americans. Those who held office jobs were able to switch to working from home, while those who worked in hard-hit industries such as entertainment, restaurants, travel and other industries continued to struggle. The poor have struggled to recover financially relative to the rich, and black and Latino households have not rebounded as well as their white counterparts.
Logan DeWitt, 30, kept his job in government during the pandemic because he was able to work remotely. But his wife, an educator, lost her job and after months of looking for a new one, she returned to school. Their financial situation was further complicated by the fact that their first child was born in the first months of the pandemic.
“We had plans to get a house. We had to give up on this idea and focused on just one car. We cook a lot at home and buy in bulk, ”DeWitt said.
About one in 10 Americans say they couldn’t make payment for their housing in the past month because of the pandemic, and about as many say they did for a credit card bill. Overall, about a quarter of Americans say they haven’t been able to pay one or more bills in the past month.
Thirty-eight percent of Hispanics and 29 percent of Black Americans have experienced a household layoff at some point in the past year, compared to 21 percent of White Americans.
This recession has also been particularly hard on young Americans. Forty percent of Americans under 30 are now reporting lower income compared to March 2020. About four in ten were scheduled for fewer hours. About a quarter say they have quit their job. Many millennials, who experienced the Great Recession of 2007-2009 early in their adulthood, are now experiencing another major financial crisis.
Congress is close to finalizing the Biden administration’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package, which includes help to many Americans and businesses still feeling the impact of the pandemic. The timing is crucial: many of the relief measures adopted at the very start of the pandemic, including unemployment benefits, will end in the coming weeks.
Things are not as dire as they were in the early stages of the pandemic for some Americans, in part because of previous actions by Washington. Additionally, lifestyle changes – fewer restaurant meals, fewer trips, no live entertainment – have made it possible for some Americans to make their financial lives healthier. In the survey, about four in ten say they saved more money than usual, and about three in ten are paying off their debt faster than usual.
Tracie Jurgens, 44, works in the trucking industry. Jurgens said his income evaporated in the first weeks of the pandemic as demand for truckers plummeted. Jurgen’s boss was able to secure a loan under the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program, which he used to purchase new equipment over the summer as things started to pick up.
“I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t had another truck,” Jurgens said.