One yr after Covid in America: a monetary snapshot

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

What a long year of Covid it has been.

Twelve months after the first US case was confirmed in January 2020, American life and family finances continue to look different than they did before the pandemic. While wealthier households – mostly college graduates and whites – have largely recovered from the financial shock, the weaknesses remaining elsewhere in the economy point to a rocky road, according to a report by the National Conference on Citizenship.

“Disasters have a very long tail,” said Allison Plyer, chief demographer for the southeast Louisiana data center and one of the report’s authors. “This will probably recover for a very long time.”

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As the number of Covid deaths in the US continues to rise – more than 421,000 as of Tuesday – roughly a third of people know someone who has succumbed to the virus, according to the report. Aside from the number of people, the pandemic has also exacerbated inequality between rich and poor, and between whites and ethnic minorities.

Here are some key measurements from the report that show where things are after a year of Covid:

  • The nation has 8.5 million fewer jobs at the end of 2020 than before the Covid-related shutdowns began last March. 140,000 jobs were lost in December, the first monthly decline since April.
  • The proportion of employed adults is 57%. It’s higher than the 51% recorded last April, but lower than the 61% who worked before shutdown.
  • Almost a third of the small businesses that opened in January 2020 are now closed. Those serving higher-income neighborhoods are hardest hit due to a drop in demand. Even if much of the country is vaccinated, “there will be people who are afraid to go back to their former way of life,” Plyer said. “The vaccine should help boost revenues for many companies, but may not bring spending back to pre-Covid levels.”
  • The majority of adults in seven states (Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming) said in December that they are expected to be evicted or excluded within two months. An executive order issued last week by President Joe Biden extends an existing eviction moratorium until the end of March. “However, the economy should recover fully in just over two months so that there are no concerns about the evictions by the end of March,” said Plyer. “I can’t see a scenario in which that would happen.”
  • 29 states are forecasting a 10% or greater decrease in tax revenues in fiscal 2021, which could impact things like education, health care, and disaster relief.
  • By December, more than one in ten adults reported that their households had become hungry during the pandemic. Louisiana is the highest at more than 1 in 5.
  • More than two-thirds (69%) of adults in a December poll said they were afraid the week before. Those earning less than $ 50,000 a year were more likely to be concerned, as were women and individuals who have experienced job losses.

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