Coronavirus BRIEFING

Economic Fallout From COVID-19 Continues to Hit Lower-Income Americans the Hardest

It’s been roughly six months since the coronavirus outbreak sent shockwaves through the U.S. economy. While the labor market has recovered somewhat and early stock market losses have been reversed, many Americans continue to face deep financial hardship.

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that, overall, one-in-four adults have had trouble paying their bills since the coronavirus outbreak started, a third have dipped into savings or retirement accounts to make ends meet, and about one-in-six have borrowed money from friends or family or gotten food from a food bank. As was the case earlier this year,  these types of experiences continue to be more common among adults with lower incomes, those without a college degree and Black and Hispanic Americans.

Among lower-income adults, 46 percent say they have had trouble paying their bills since the pandemic started and roughly one third (32 percent) say it’s been hard for them to make rent or mortgage payments. About one-in-five or fewer middle-income adults have faced these challenges, and the shares are substantially smaller for those in the upper-income tier. To be sure, some of these financial pain points may have existed even before the pandemic – particularly for lower-income adults. 

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