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The pandemic gutted many people financially, but others are doing better than ever

While some people have lost jobs and income, others seem to be thriving. And the chances of falling into either camp vary by income, age, race or ethnicity and gender, according to findings from a new nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center.

For instance, 44% of those Pew surveyed said they or someone in their household experienced either a job loss or pay cut since February 2020. Among those who were most likely to have experienced one or both of those earnings hits were lower-income adults (49%), young adults (61%), Hispanics (58%) and Asian Americans (54%).

Meanwhile, women (23%), young adults (28%) and those in lower income households (32%) were most likely to say they had to take unpaid time off due to family or medical reasons.

On the flip side, the Pew survey also revealed that just under a third of all employed workers got a higher paying job or raise (31%) or made more money due to overtime pay or working more hours (23%).

When the results were broken down by income levels, roughly 30% of lower-income workers reported earning more money, through overtime or longer hours. Only 24% of middle-income workers and 15% of upper-income workers said the same.

Those most likely to report getting a higher paying job or raise were men (32%), young adults (47%) and upper-income earners (33%).

A savings boon for some, and a long climb back for others

One silver lining of the pandemic for many — especially those who have been working from home — has been their ability to save more money since so many normal expenses tied to going out or commuting were eliminated. Overall, 42% of those surveyed said they have been spending less money than usual.

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Those fatter savings, though, have gone disproportionately to upper-income households. A third of those households (32%) reported saving more than usual, while only 16% of lower-income households said the same.

When it comes to one’s overall financial situation, 30% of people said it has improved, while 21% said it has gotten worse since February of last year.

But upper-income folks were more likely to be on the upside of that divide, with 39% saying that their family’s financial situation is better today than it was a year ago. Less than a third of middle-income households (32%) and lower-income households (22%) expressed that sentiment.

Conversely, lower-income adults (31%) were most likely to say their financial situation is worse, while upper-income people (11%) were least likely.

Looking ahead, the negative financial effects of the pandemic may linger for many people.

Of those Americans who were hurt financially in the past year, 26% expect it will take three to five years for their finances to get back to where they were before Covid struck. Another 6% say it could take up to a decade. And 12% expect they will never recover.

The Pew Research Center survey of 10,334 US adults was conducted between January 19 and January 24 of this year and had a plus or minus 1.6 percentage point margin of sampling error.

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