In the seven months since the first announcement of Covid-19 on U.S. soil, daily life looks dramatically different than it did prior to the pandemic. The nation has 11 million fewer jobs than one year ago, and initial unemployment claims rose again in the week ending August 15 suggesting a stalling economic recovery.1,2 Demand is down in key high-contact sectors such as air travel, tourism, restaurants, and entertainment, indicating the economy will not completely recover until fears of contagion are addressed.3.4 

In the near term, parents and guardians are faced with no-win decisions about whether to send their children and young adults to school or college in the middle of a pandemic or not.5,6 Emerging research reveals that kids are not immune to the virus but is inconclusive about their role spreading the infection, leaving parents uncertain as to whether sending their children to school will be safe for children, families, or teachers.7 

But remote learning is yielding measurable learning loss, even for students with access to the internet. The effects of closed schools this past spring, continued remote learning this fall, and greatly reduced quality childcare capacity could be long lasting—putting the U.S. at a future competitive disadvantage to other industrialized countries that more effectively controlled the virus.8.9 In addition, with 1 in 5 adults unable to work because Covid disrupted their childcare arrangements, safe schools and childcare represent a near term hurdle to workforce recovery affecting nearly every economic sector.10

Many adults and children of color are experiencing the most severe health effects from Covid exposure and infection. At the same time, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous populations have less internet access and poorer employment opportunities.  As the nation awakens to racial and income inequities that influence nearly every system, clear eyed understanding of these disparities will be essential to effectively move forward from this crisis. 

Pandemic to Prosperity explores the impact of the Covid crisis, particularly on children and people of color, while establishing benchmarks to achieve a more prosperous future for all Americans. New analyses in this edition include assessment of low 2020 Census response rates and news deserts in areas with high rates of Covid.

Pandemic

Pandemic to Prosperity examines how the Covid-19 crisis has damaged lives and livelihoods across the United States. 

  • States in the South and West Coast continue to have the highest Covid case rates, while cases are stabilized in the Northeast. Smaller hotspots continue to emerge across the rest of the nation.
  • Native American, African American, and Hispanic/Latinx individuals are roughly 5 times more likely to have severe Covid impacts than white individuals
  • The U.S. has 11 million fewer jobs than one year ago. And 10 states have lost more than 500,000 jobs. 

Prosperity

High functioning governments and civic institutions will be crucial as we aim to build a more perfect union with wellbeing for all after the pandemic. 

Government

  • Only 5 states—all in the Northeast—are currently making progress towards the White House Opening Up America Guidelines, with the majority of states trending poorly.
  • Roughly $525 billion in forgivable Payroll Protection Program loans have been distributed with $134 billion unclaimed when the program ended on August 8. 
  • At least 10 states are projecting fiscal year 2020 tax revenue reductions of 10% or more. In FY 2021, at least 32 states expect additional tax revenue reductions of 10% or more.
  • With a looming deadline of September 30, more than half of households yet to be counted in the 2020 Census are in active Covid hotspots.
  • As of August, 24 states and the District of Columbia are now mostly ready to vote from home in the pandemic.

Institutions

  • More than half of counties currently experiencing high rates of new cases of Covid are in news deserts, meaning a critical vehicle for trusted information during the pandemic is unavailable.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 children of color lack internet and a computer or tablet in their homes, impacting their ability to learn during the pandemic.

People

  • 16 to 19-year olds continue to face historically low employment rates, which will impact their careers and earning potential for years to come
  • Nearly 19 million children nationwide have experienced the trauma of hunger, potential homelessness, or both since the pandemic began.

With the impacts of Covid-19 increasing the challenges of daily life, the U.S. is feeling the strain now more than ever. Communities may continue to face a devastating wave of homelessness as eviction courts reopen. States vary greatly in their ability to protect lives and livelihoods, support their most vulnerable, and prepare for safe and fair upcoming elections. 

In addition to the stressors of daily life, the nation continues to experience new shocks. Iowa recently experienced hurricane-force winds with a derecho that damaged crops and flattened thousands of homes.11 Hundreds of thousands of Californians have been ordered to evacuate a record number of fires and hurricane season is just hitting its full stride.12,13 While states in the south and west struggle to tamp down the highest Covid case rates in the country, the President has ordered $44 billion in FEMA funding to be redirected to unemployment benefits because Congress has been unable to come to agreement on additional stimulus funding.14 Pandemic to Prosperity tracks changes to a number of indicators each month as a means for measuring progress as the nation endeavors to simultaneously manage Covid and build a more equitable future.

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