Nine months since the first announcement of Covid-19 on U.S. soil, the effects of the pandemic are coming into sharper focus:

  • Despite restrictions being lifted over the summer, depressed demand has contributed to the closure of 1 in 4 small businesses nationwide as of the end of September.
  • The number of U.S. jobs is recovering but remains 10.7 million fewer than in February.
  • Unemployment claims are declining but continue to be filed at levels twice the peak of the Great Recession.
  • Employment rates for youth 16-19 years old have rebounded to 31%, now roughly the same as in September 2019, but labor force participation for those 20 years and older fell in September—particularly for women as they struggle to balance work demands with childcare responsibilities.1
  • Fully 22% of Indigenous and 16% of Black individuals do not have internet access, limiting their access to school, work, doctors, and knowledge about the virus.
  • Graduate school enrollment is up nearly 3%, while undergraduate enrollment is down 4% – driven by significantly lower enrollment among first-year undergrads.
  • More than 1 in 3 adults in 18 states report they are likely to be evicted or foreclosed upon in the next two months.
  • Adults reporting anxiety is quadruple the level in January before the pandemic took hold. Mental health is most severely impacted for low-income adults who are dealing with compounding crises.
  • Health insurance coverage, which improved significantly over the last decade, is disproportionately lacking among Hispanic and Indigenous working age adults. Because employer-sponsored health insurance is the largest source of health coverage for Americans, millions may have lost coverage in 2020.2
  • During a pandemic, an insufficient healthcare system not only impacts those needing treatment for Covid, but also deters people from seeking care for other health issues. For every 2 known Covid deaths, 1 additional person has died above the level expected based on historic norms. 
  • Covid hotspots are erupting across rural American, and epidemiologists worry that Americans are becoming weary of social distancing as a third wave of the pandemic emerges.3,4
  • The amount of time permitted for deduplicating and error-checking 2020 Census responses is less than half what career staff said was needed due to the pandemic, and is 12 weeks shorter than the average time over the last 3 decades. Because census numbers are used to divide up congressional seats and federal funding by state, every state needs a complete and accurate count in order for those divisions to be fair. 

At the same time the pandemic has given many the opportunity and inspiration to deepen their civic engagement. Protests have been a fixture across the country for months, with more than 13,000 protests taking place, 95% of them peaceful. These protests have been a way for communities to express their concerns about police brutality, racial injustice, and more recently issues around evictions, PPE for healthcare workers, and school reopenings. In addition, record-breaking numbers of people have already voted early in many states, showcasing a renewed sense of civic duty leading up to the November election.5

Pandemic to Prosperity will continue to track changes to these and a number of other indicators quarterly as a means for measuring progress as the nation endeavors to simultaneously manage Covid and build a more equitable future. 


  1. “Why has COVID-19 been especially harmful for working women?” Bateman, Ross. Brookings Institute. October, 2020. 
  2. “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Access to Health Care.” Cole. National Academy of Social Insurance. July, 2020. 
  3. “A Third Coronavirus Surge Has Taken Root in the U.S.” Rabin, Kolata. The New York Times. October, 2020. 
  4. “Alarming Data Show a Third Wave of COVID-19 Is About to Hit the U.S.” Wilson, Kluger. Time. September, 2020.  
  5. “Florida shatters opening day record for early voting.” Dixon. Politico. October, 2020. 
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