While most Americans have resisted the coronavirus pandemic financially, an estimated 38 million people say they are worse off now than before the outbreak began in the United States.
Overall, 55% of Americans say their financial situation is about the same as a year ago, and 30% say their finances have improved, according to a new survey from Impact Genome and the ‘Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But 15 percent of those polled say they are worse off.
The problem is more pronounced at lower income levels: 29% of Americans living below the federal poverty line say their personal finances have deteriorated in the past year. Basically, many also find themselves in a deeper and deeper financial hole, claiming to have struggled to pay their bills in the past three months.
Britney Frick, 27, is among those whose finances have taken a hit. She worked as a substitute teacher before the pandemic, but her role has been eliminated. Initially, she found a job in telecommunications that allowed her to work from home, but the hours started to decrease and then dry up.
Frick was unemployed for six months but was able to get by using her savings, reduced rent and help from her parents.
“I’m slowly getting back on my feet, but I’m far from where I was before COVID,” she said.
Frick got a job at a daycare in March, and the constant work is helping him rebuild his financial situation.
“I still live from paycheck to paycheck, but at least the paycheck covers the bills,” she says. “But I’m happy to be back at work, honestly, and happy to be back to normal.”
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy: The United States still has 8.4 million fewer jobs than in February 2020, just before COVID-19 hit.
In response, the government passed three major relief bills, which included direct economic relief payments to individuals. It has helped alleviate the suffering of some.
Government payments – $ 1,400 to individuals – were sent from last month. Households on average use or plan to use about a third of the money to pay off debt, about 25% for spending, and the rest for savings, according to a report released last week by the New York Federal Reserve. . This closely mirrored the expenditure of previous relief payments.
Overall, the Impact Genome / AP-NORC poll found that 52% of Americans say they have been able to save money for most of the past three months, while 37% have reached the threshold of profitability and 10% have not paid their bills. Among Americans living below the poverty line, 29% say they have struggled to pay their bills recently, while only 16% have saved.
In comparison, 61% of those living well above the poverty line say they have been able to save.
There are also large racial disparities, with 57% of White Americans, 47% of Hispanics, and just 39% of Black Americans reporting recent savings. Black and Hispanic Americans are about twice as likely as white Americans to say they haven’t paid their bills.
Andrew Holland said his family’s finances were fairly stable during most of the pandemic. The California resident worked as a hospice nurse and case manager and his wife retained her job at a refinery. But the stress and isolation of the pandemic caused him to reconsider his job.
Unlike before the pandemic, he hasn’t had any face-to-face interactions with colleagues or friends to relieve some of the pressure from his job. So he quit and found a new job in hospice with fewer hours. His wife also got a new job with better pay.
Although their family finances have been temporarily affected and they have spent some savings, he expects to recover. Holland and his wife have started to monitor their spending more closely and are now planning early retirement.
“It really got me thinking about what I want to do and when do I want to do it,” said Holland, 35. “I feel extremely lucky that the worst that has happened is that I lost a month’s salary and found a job with fewer hours.
The poll found that many Americans – nearly a third – had not had similar long-term investment or savings accounts even before the pandemic. Another 19 percent say they’ve been able to add more to investments like a 401 (k) or college savings plan, and 38 percent say the amount hasn’t changed from Last year.
Holland said he was disheartened by the uneven way the pandemic has unfolded for people and fears the imbalance will never be corrected.
“I’m happy that this prompted me to take a look at my finances and plan a little more for the future,” he said. “I really wish it had been done at a much lower cost for the whole world.”