Roughly half of American workers say they or someone in their household has lost income due to the CCP virus pandemic, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Americans with low incomes and those without a college degree are especially likely to have lost a job, the poll suggests.
The income losses likely contributed to a reversal in the perception of the economy. Six in 10 poll respondents say the economy is now “poor,” compared to nearly 7 in 10 who said it was “good” in January.
The U.S. economy is in a temporary standstill unprecedented in modern history. The majority of businesses are shuttered as workers stay home to do their part in helping slow the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus.
The markets have reacted to weeks of increasingly bleak news and forecasts about the toll of the pandemic. The United States reported more than 5,700 deaths as of April 2. The White House estimates that as many as 240,000 people may die from COVID-19 before the pandemic is extinguished.
The income losses stem from pay cuts, reduced hours, unpaid time off, and layoffs. Nearly a quarter of respondents who were working before the outbreak say either they or a member of their household lost jobs.
“It’s terrible and it’s going to get worse,” said Bill Ardren, 75, a retired community college vice president from Minnesota. “The stock market is down. Unemployment is up. Stores are shutting down. I don’t see any bright lights in the economy right now.”
A record 6.6 million Americans applied for jobless benefits last week, double the record set during the prior week. Analysts estimate that up to 20 million jobs may be lost by summertime.
Samantha Lafitte, 30, of Moody, Texas, was furloughed from her job as a nurse at a gastro clinic. She will still draw some pay over the next two weeks, meaning that she and her husband have some time before the pressure begins.
“But in three weeks, I won’t be paid anything,” said Lafitte, the mother of two children, 2 and 11. “It does put on a financial strain.”
Despite COVID-19’s pocketbook impact on millions of Americans, as well as their overall pessimism about the economy, the poll found majorities remain confident about their personal finances—as well as President Donald Trump’s handling of the economy.
“We’re at a bump in the road right now,” said Chip McEwen, 64, who worked in financial services and drives a charter bus in his semi-retirement in Montgomery, Alabama. “If the COVID-19 weren’t here, we would be rocking and rolling.”
The number of Americans who say their financial situation is good is down only slightly to 62 percent from 67 percent in January. Americans are twice as likely to believe their financial situation will improve than that it will get worse.
Opinions about the economy are still shaped by political beliefs, but most Americans still feel confident in Trump’s economic leadership. The president received a 56 percent approval rating on the economy, significantly higher than his overall approval rating of 43 percent, the AP poll found.
An average of major polls maintained by RealClearPolitics showed Trump’s overall job approval at nearly 48 percent on April 2, a record high.
Ross Turner, a 75-year-old surveyor and engineer from Spanish Fork, Utah, thinks Trump has done “pretty well” in dealing with the economy and keeping the public informed. He’s inclined to vote for the president in November, after having not backed him in 2016.
“The idea of having a daily briefing—they’re trying to be transparent about things,” Turner said.
Nick Macrina, 29, was let go last month from his job as a server at El Cortijo in Burlington, Vermont. He’s been told the job should return in May. The added unemployment benefits should help as he continues to study to be an herbal clinician. But a lot will depend on how long the downturn lasts.
“It’s helpful that we’re at least getting something for support,” he said. “But is it enough? It’s hard to say.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.