Money & The Economy

Roughly 40% Of Americans Say They Recently Suffered Financial Difficulties, Study Shows

Over 40% of U.S. households said they experienced severe financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing difficulties paying bills, credit cards and draining their savings, according to a Harvard University report.

The survey conducted by the Harvard T.H.Chan School of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the National Public Radio asked roughly 3,600 participants between July and August about problems they faced during the pandemic and how it affected their lives in recent months. Respondents were asked about financial, healthcare, education and personal safety concerns.

Roughly 30% of adults interviewed said they used up all or most of their savings during the pandemic, while 10% reported they had no savings before the pandemic began, according to the report.  About one in five households had difficulties paying credit cards, loans, and other debts as well as utilities.

The groups organizing the survey expected the figures to be much lower, Robert Blendon, co-director of the study and professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the Wall Street Journal.

“They are still caught in the middle of the impact of the delta variant and Covid epidemic. It’s not over for them financially,” Blendon said. “We’re in the middle of a period of real peoples’ lives where they’re still in a lifeboat worried about just getting to shore.”

The survey highlights how the pandemic fractured the U.S. economy as financially comfortable individuals increased their wealth while lower-income Americans fought financial instability, the WSJ reported.

“While federal economic assistance has helped millions of families, short term help is not enough to solve deeply entrenched inequities,” Richard Besser, president and chief executive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said, according to the WSJ.

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