While most Americans have weathered the coronavirus pandemic financially, about 38 million people say they are having more trouble than before the outbreak in the US.
Overall, 55% of Americans say their finances are now the same as they were a year ago and 30% say their finances have improved, according to a new poll from Impact Genome and the Research Center. Associated Press-NORC Public Affairs. But 15% of respondents said they were even worse.
The problem is more pronounced at lower incomes: 29% of Americans living below the federal poverty line say their personal finances have worsened over the past year. Most also find themselves falling into a deepening financial hole, saying they’ve been struggling to pay bills for the past three months.
Britney Frick, 27, is one of those whose finances are affected. She worked as a pre-pandemic replacement teacher, but her role was removed. Initially, she found a telecom job that allowed her to work from home, but time started to dwindle and then ran out.
Frick ended up unemployed for six months but was able to make ends meet using her savings, reduced rent and help from her parents.
“I’m slowly getting back up, but not near where I was before COVID,” she said.
Frick got a job at a day care center in March, and the steady job is helping her rebuild her financial picture.
“I’m still living on my salary to pay, but at least the salary is covering the bills,” she said. “But honestly, I’m happy to get back to work and happy that everything is back to normal.”
The pandemic has devastated the economy: The United States still has 8.4 million fewer jobs than in February 2020, just before COVID-19 happened.
In response, the government passed three major relief bills, which include direct economic relief payments to individuals. That has helped alleviate some people’s suffering.
Government payments – $ 1,400 to individuals – were sent in early last month. According to a report by the Federal Reserve of New York, the average household is using or planning to use about a third of the money to pay off debt, about 25% to spend and the rest to save. . That closely reflects the spending of previous relief payments.
Overall, the Impact Genome / AP-NORC poll found that 52% of Americans say they can save money for most of the past three months, while 37% break even and 10% lack bill payments. Of Americans living below the poverty line, 29% say they have struggled to pay bills recently, while only 16% have saved.
By comparison, 61% of those living above the poverty line said that they were able to save.
There is also a large racial disparity, with 57% of white Americans, 47% of Hispanics and only 39% of black Americans saying they have been saving recently. Black and Hispanic Americans are twice as likely to be white Americans who say they lack bill payments.
Andrew Holland said his family’s finances were fairly stable during most of the pandemic. The California resident worked as a cell care and case manager and his wife kept her job with an oil refinery. But the strain and isolation of the pandemic forced him to reconsider his work.
Unlike before the pandemic, he did not have direct contact with colleagues or friends to relieve work pressure. So he quit his job and found a new job in a dead cell service with less hours. His wife also found a new job with a higher salary.
While their family’s finances have been temporarily affected and they have spent some of their savings, he hopes to recover. Holland and his wife have started to monitor their spending more closely and are now planning to retire sooner.
“This really makes me see what I want to do and when I want to do it,” said Holland, 35. “I feel incredibly fortunate that the worst that happened was that I lost a month’s paycheck and got a job in less hours.”
The poll found many Americans – almost a third – had not had similar investments or long-term savings accounts even before the pandemic. Another 19% said they were able to add more to investments such as a 401 (k) or college savings plan and 38% said that the amount had not changed from last year.
Holland said he was dissatisfied with the inequality of how the pandemic had unfolded for everyone and feared the imbalance would never be repaired.
“I’m glad that gave me the incentive to look at my finances and plan a bit more detailed for the future,” he said. “I definitely wish it had come at a much lower cost to the whole world.”