Half of U.S. households say income declined during pandemic
Nearly half of adults surveyed by Bankrate.com said they have seen a negative impact on their incomes because of COVID-19.
The household financial carnage from the pandemic goes far beyond those who have been laid off or furloughed, said chief financial analyst Greg McBride.
Of those who have seen a negative impact to income from the pandemic, just 17% say it is already back to normal; 42% expect their income to return to normal within the next six months; 37% say it will take six months or more; and 4% say it will never recover.
McBride said the survey also found that younger workers were more likely to have suffered an income reduction but younger workers were more optimistic at how quickly that would rebound. More than half or those who had seen an income reduction among Gen-Z and Millennials said they expect to see that bounce back within six months. It was just more than a third in Gen-X and only a third in Baby Boomers.
One area of concern is that two-thirds of economic output is tied to consumer spending. McBride said 92% of those who had seen their pay reduced from this wave fear another outbreak would do so again. Among households who did not see their income decrease the first time around, 62% said they are concerned a second outbreak will eventually hit them.
"The reduction in income and the potential concern about it doing so down the road, both of those are going to be a drag on consumer spending, which will be a drag on the overall economic recovery," McBride said.
To help people get through income reduction, he suggested that people start by seeking payment relief from creditors, such as mortgage lenders, car loans, credit cards and student loans. Any payment relief received will buy someone valuable time to help them get back on their feet financially.
Second, take a long hard look at expenses and put discretionary spending on the backburner. Focus the limited dollars coming in on true essentials like food and medicine, he said.