Thirty-eight percent of households in the United States reported facing serious financial problems in the past few months as the nation tries to emerge from the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a national poll released on Tuesday by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Even with billions of dollars in relief money from both federal and state governments, "what we have here is a lot of people who are still one step from drowning financially," said Robert Blendon, emeritus professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard Chan School.
Among Latino, Black, and Native American households, more than 50% had serious financial problems, while 29% of white households did.
The poll showed continued widespread problems in a number of areas caused by the pandemic and the delta variant surge:
- Of those with annual incomes below $50,000 annually, 59% reported serious financial problems in the past few months, compared with only 18% of households with annual incomes of more than $50,000.
- The financial problems came even though some two-thirds of households said they received financial assistance from the government in the past few months during the delta variant surge.
- Nineteen percent of U.S. households reported losing all of their savings during the coronavirus crisis and currently having no savings to fall back on.
- Among Black households: 31% reported losing all of their savings, while just over a quarter of Latino and Native American families also depleted their savings.
- When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's eviction ban expired at the end of August, 27% of renters nationally reported serious problems paying their rent in the past few months.
- Half of households reported at least one person in the home has had serious problems with depression, anxiety, stress, or sleep in recent months due to the pandemic.
- More than two-thirds of American households with children in K-12 last school year said their children fell behind in their learning because of the coronavirus crisis, including 36% who said their children "fell behind a lot."
- Thinking about this school year, 70% of households whose children fell behind last school year believed it will be difficult for children in their household to catch up.
- Among the one in five households reporting a problem getting care for a serious medical condition, 76% of those reported that there was a negative health consequence as a result.
- Among households unable to get care when they needed it, 78% reported having health insurance, while 22% said they did not have health insurance.
The poll was conducted between Aug. 2 and Sept. 7 among a probability-based, address-based, nationally representative sample of 3,616 U.S. adults. The margin of error at the 95% confidence interval is ± 3.4 percentage points for national results.
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