Majority of Americans Say 'No Change' in Income Since Pandemic Start, Poll Finds

A majority of Americans say their household income and finances experienced "no change" since the start of the pandemic, according to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

A slight 53 percent majority of U.S. adults said there's been no change in their household income over the past year. But that lack of economic effect does not carry over to the other half of Americans, 44 percent of whom said their household experienced income loss from the pandemic that is still hurting their finances. U.S. Labor Department data shows roughly 745,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits during the week of February 22, and the poll released Tuesday found a quarter of households experienced one layoff. Young Americans as well as Black and Latino households have seen the most economic setbacks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

One-third of Americans said that at least one member of their household is now scheduled for fewer hours than they were last March. Thirty percent say their current household income is lower than it was pre-pandemic. Sixteen percent of adults said their income is higher.

"I just felt like we were already in a harder position, so [the pandemic] kind of threw us even more under the dirt," Kennard Taylor, a 20-year-old Black college student at Jackson College in Michigan, told the Associated Press, adding he was forced to move back in with his parents after losing a campus server job.

Economists have described the ongoing pandemic recovery as "K-shaped," with people who worked in offices able to relocate to their homes and continue earning money. But going the other way are millions of Americans who lost their jobs in hard-hit industries such as travel, hospitality and live entertainment. Overall, poorer American households are struggling more as wealthier households are in some cases doing even better than they were pre-pandemic.

About 10 percent of Americans surveyed said they couldn't make a housing payment in the last month because of the pandemic, with about the same saying that of credit card payments. One-quarter of adults said they have been unable to make one bill payment over the past month as a result of pandemic financial losses. Forty percent of young Americans, those under the age of 30, reported lower income compared to last March. And younger Americans were far more likely than their older counterparts to say they've taken steps to reduce their spending—eating out at restaurants less, traveling less and not going to live shows.

Thirty-eight percent of Hispanics and 29 percent of Black Americans said they experienced a layoff in their household.

This week, President Joe Biden is set to finalize a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that received no support from Republican members of Congress, who say it gives too much money to individual Americans.

Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Labor Department for additional reaction to the survey numbers Tuesday morning.

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People wait in line to receive donated food from a food bank on May 15, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty