At least four in ten Latino, Black, and Native American households report using up all or most of their household savings during this time.
For immediate release: September 16, 2020
Boston, MA – According to a new NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll, majorities of Latino (72%), Black (60%), and Native American (55%) households across the U.S. report facing serious financial problems during the coronavirus outbreak, while 37% of Asian and 36% of White households also report this (see Figure 1 and Table 1 for further details).
This poll, The Impact of Coronavirus on Households, By Race/Ethnicity, explored serious problems facing households in high-risk racial/ethnic groups across the nation during the coronavirus outbreak. In particular, findings highlight the experiences of Latino, Black, and Native American communities, who have all been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 with high rates of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
The poll was conducted July 1 – August 3, 2020, among 3,454 U.S. adults, including among the five largest racial/ethnic groups in the U.S.: 1,750 non-Hispanic white, 666 non-Hispanic Black, 648 Latino, 224 non-Hispanic Asian, and 101 Native American adults. Adults in this survey were asked to report on serious problems facing both themselves and others living in their households, so measures are reported as a percentage of households for all household-related questions. Measures are reported according to the respondent’s race/ethnicity (e.g., Black households, Latino households), as the racial/ethnic identity of others in their household are unknown. Data for all five racial/ethnic groups surveyed are available in the full report, with the Methodology below containing details of the sample.
Among Latino households, the most-reported serious financial problems include more than four in ten (46%) who report using up all or most of their savings, while an additional 15% volunteered they did not have any household savings prior to the coronavirus outbreak (see Table 1). About one in three Latino households report serious problems paying their credit card bills, loans, or other debt (34%), their utilities (33%), and their mortgage or rent (32%).
When it comes to employment changes, more than six in ten Latino households (63%) report any adult household members have lost their jobs, been furloughed, or had wages or hours reduced since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Among Latino households with job or wage losses during the coronavirus outbreak, most (87%) report having serious financial problems.
In health care, one in four Latino households (25%) report serious problems affording medical care during the coronavirus outbreak. One in five Latino households (20%) report anyone in their household has been unable to get medical care for a serious problem when they needed it during the coronavirus outbreak, and more than four in ten of these households (47%) report negative health consequences as a result.
“Before federal coronavirus support programs even expired, we find millions of people with very serious problems with their finances, healthcare, and with caring for children,” said Robert J. Blendon, co-director of the survey and Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis Emeritus at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Though we want to believe we are all in this together, findings show problems heavily concentrated in Latino, Black, and Native American communities.”
Among Black households, the most-reported serious financial problems include about four in ten (41%) who report using up all or most of their savings, while an additional 10% volunteered they did not have any household savings prior to the coronavirus outbreak (see Table 1). About three in ten Black households (31%) report serious problems paying their credit card bills, loans, or other debt; and more than one in four report serious problems paying their utilities (29%) and paying their mortgage or rent (28%). In addition, about three in ten Black households (31%) report they have missed or delayed paying major bills to ensure household members had enough to eat during the coronavirus outbreak.
When it comes to employment changes, more than four in ten Black households (44%) report any adult household members have lost their jobs, been furloughed, or had wages or hours reduced since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Among Black households with job or wage losses during the coronavirus outbreak, a large majority (75%) report having serious financial problems.
In health care, nearly one in five Black households (18%) report serious problems affording medical care during the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, nearly one in five Black households (18%) report anyone in their household has been unable to get medical care for a serious problem when they needed it during the coronavirus outbreak, and a large majority of these households (73%) report negative health consequences as a result.
Among Native American households, the most-reported serious financial problems include about four in ten (41%) who report using up all or most of their savings, while an additional 9% volunteered they did not have any household savings prior to the coronavirus outbreak (see Table 1). When it comes to employment changes, more than four in ten Native American households (46%) report any adult household members have lost their jobs, been furloughed, or had wages or hours reduced since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
Sizeable shares of Native American households also report serious problems with affording food and internet connectivity during this time. About one in four Native American households (26%) report facing serious problems affording food during the coronavirus outbreak. And about half of Native American households (51%) report either having serious problems with their internet connection to do their job or schoolwork, or that they do not have a high-speed internet connection at home. In health care, about one in three Native American households (32%) report anyone in their household has been unable to get medical care for a serious problem when they needed it during the coronavirus outbreak.
Table 1. Serious Financial Problems Among U.S. Households During the Coronavirus Outbreak, By Race/Ethnicity (in Percent)
Q4-5. At any point since the start of the coronavirus outbreak… has anyone living in your household had ________, or not? … to your knowledge, has anyone living in your household used up all or most of their savings, or not?
|Serious financial problems (NET)*||72||60||55||37||36|
|Used up all/most of savings†||46||41||41||23||25|
|Serious problems paying credit cards/loans/debt||34||31||23||8||16|
|Serious problems paying mortgage/rent||32||28||25||13||15|
|Serious problems paying utilities||33||29||24||8||13|
|Serious problems affording food||26||22||26||6||12|
|Serious problems affording medical care||25||18||12||10||12|
|Serious problems making car payments||27||21||17||8||10|
|Other serious financial problems||17||17||22||12||12|
*Net “yes” responses to Q4a-g and Q5. †An additional 15% of Latino households, 10% of Black households, 9% of Native American households, 7% of Asian households, and 9% of White households volunteered they didn’t have any household savings prior to the coronavirus outbreak. NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The Impact of Coronavirus on Households, By Race/Ethnicity, 7/1/20 – 8/3/20. N=3,454 U.S. adults ages 18+. Respondent’s racial/ethnic identity categorized as Latino, non-Hispanic Black, Native American, non-Hispanic Asian, and non-Hispanic White. Categories ranked by overall highest % among all respondents.
The poll in this study is part of an on-going series of surveys developed by researchers at the Harvard Opinion Research Program (HORP) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and NPR. The research team consists of the following members at each institution.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Robert J. Blendon, Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis Emeritus, and Executive Director of HORP; John M. Benson, Senior Research Scientist and Managing Director of HORP; Mary G. Findling, Senior Research Specialist; Chelsea Whitton Pearsall, Research Coordinator.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Carolyn Miller, Senior Program Officer, Research-Evaluation-Learning; Jordan Reese, Director of Media Relations; Martina Todaro, Research Associate, Research-Evaluation-Learning.
NPR: Andrea Kissack, Senior Supervising Editor, Science Desk; Joe Neel, Deputy Senior Supervising Editor, Science Desk; Scott Hensley, Senior Editor, Science Desk.
Interviews were conducted online and via telephone (cellphone and landline), July 1 – August 3, 2020, among a nationally representative, probability-based sample of 3,454 adults age 18 or older in the U.S. The survey included nationally representative samples of white, Black, Latino, Asian, and Native Americans. Data collection was conducted in English and Spanish by SSRS (Glen Mills, PA), an independent research company.
The core of the sample was address-based, with respondents sampled from the United States Postal Service’s Computerized Delivery Sequence (CDS) file. Sampled households were sent an invitation letter including a link to complete the survey online and a toll-free number that respondents could call to complete the survey with a telephone interviewer. All respondents were sent a reminder postcard, which also included a QR code they could scan to be linked to the survey via a smart device. Households that could be matched to telephone numbers and that had not yet completed the survey were called to attempt to complete an interview. In order to represent the hardest-to-reach populations, the address-based sample (ABS) was supplemented by telephone interviews with respondents who had previously completed interviews on the weekly random-digit dialing (RDD) SSRS Omnibus poll and online using the SSRS Opinion Panel, a probability-based panel.
A total of 2,992 respondents completed the questionnaire online, 127 by calling in to complete, and 335 were completed as outbound interviews.
Possible sources of non-sampling error include non-response bias, as well as question wording and ordering effects. Non-response produces some known biases in survey-derived estimates because participation tends to vary for different subgroups of the population. To compensate for these known biases and for variations in probability of selection within and across households, the samples were weighted to match the distribution of the population based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey (ACS). Weighting parameters included: gender, age, education level, and for the national sample also region and race/ethnicity.
The margins of sampling error, including the design effect, for each of the samples are shown below.
|Number of interviews
|Margin of sampling error at the 95% confidence level (percentage points)|
Respondents self-reported their own race/ethnicity.
*White, Black, and, Asian respondents who also identified as Latino or Hispanic were included only in the Latino sample, so those three groups are white (non-Hispanic), Black (non-Hispanic), and Asian (non-Hispanic).
**Native Americans are those who report their main racial/ethnic identity as American Indian or Alaska Native.
Respondents who were the only person living in a household were asked about their own experiences. Respondents who had anyone else also living in their household were asked about the experiences of anyone living in the household. Together these responses represent the experience of the household.
photo: Sipa USA via AP
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