Eight months since the first announcement of Covid-19 on U.S. soil, crises have begun to compound one another. Fires on the West Coast have damaged thousands of homes and brought air quality across most of Washington, Oregon, and California to unhealthy levels.1,2 Hurricanes continue to ravage the South, and those forced to evacuate are straining available lodging in the cities that receive them.3,4

Meanwhile, the nation still has 11.5 million fewer jobs than at the start of 2020, and the share of adults with employment is lower than at the depths of the Great Recession, with youth and black adults experiencing the weakest employment prospects. Unemployment claims remain double their peak during the Great Recession. Freelancers, gig workers, contractors, and others ineligible for standard unemployment benefits may apply for specialized Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Combined PUA claims and standard state unemployment claims indicate an astronomical 30 million workers, contractors, and sole proprietors are without earnings.

In 8 out of 10 counties nationwide, basic costs of housing, food, and transportation are unaffordable for those relying solely on current unemployment benefits. Not surprisingly, in half of all states, at least 1 in 3 adults anticipate they will be evicted or foreclosed upon in the next two months. And nationwide, more than 1 in 10 adults report their households have gone hungry during the pandemic. 

New Census Bureau data on 2019 internet access reveals little improvement from the previous year.  Even in states with the highest prevalence, 1 in 5 households lack internet access.  This impacts children and young adults more than in the past, due to increased dependency on the internet for education. In particular, Black children are shown to be suffering from the lack of internet access, as they  face learning loss and are more likely to be penalized for truancy when they cannot access online school. Equitable internet access will be crucial for a comprehensive path forward for schools during the pandemic.

Without clear guidance from the federal government, individuals, parents, businesses, schools, and institutions are all struggling to make good choices about how to manage risk of exposure to the virus while still earning a living, generating revenue, and/or keeping students’ learning and development on track. All of this plus social isolation have caused 62% of adults to report feeling anxiety, with those earning below $25k feeling anxiety at a rate 15 percentage points higher than those earning $200k or more. Not surprisingly, households with children report anxiety at a rate 6 percentage points higher than those without. 

With only days remaining before the Administration’s deadline for counting everyone in the U.S., 5 states still have fewer than 90% of households enumerated in the 2020 Census. These include southern states where, in addition to Covid-related challenges, hurricanes have caused evacuations and near impossible conditions for completing the count.5 Because census numbers are used to divide up congressional seats and federal funding by state, every state needs a complete count in order for those divisions to be fair.

Moreover, weeks before the national election on November 3rd, many states remain unprepared to hold safe elections in pandemic conditions.

Additional indicators include:

  • States in the South and Midwest have the highest Covid case rates, while cases are stabilized in the Northeast. Hotspots continue to emerge across the rest of the nation.
  • Native American, African American, and Hispanic/Latinx individuals are 4.5 times more likely to have severe Covid impacts than white individuals.
  • Only 3 states—all in the Northeast—are currently making progress towards the White House Opening Up America Guidelines, with the majority of states trending poorly.
  • At least 8 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.
  • 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.

As the data continues to reflect, states vary greatly in their ability to protect lives and livelihoods, support their most vulnerable, and prepare for safe and fair upcoming elections. 

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

References

  1. “Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims.” U.S. Department of Labor. August 2020. https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf
  2. “1 big thing: Economists foresee an unemployment ‘tsunami’ coming.” Rabouin. Axios. August 2020. https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-markets-12675eed-329f-41b4-978d-4120b6580c12.html?chunk=0&utm_term=emshare#stor
  3. “How Did COVID-19 and Stabilization Policies Affect Spending and Employment? A New Real-Time Economic Tracker Based on Private Sector Data.” Chetty, Friedman, Hendren, Stepner, et al. Opportunity Insights. June 2020. https://opportunityinsights.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/tracker_paper.pdf
  4. “CBRE: Recent Covid-19 case increase tempers U.S. hotel outlook.” Airoldi. Travel Weekly. July 2020. https://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Hotel-News/CBRE-Recent-Covid-19-case-increase-tempers-US-hotel-outlook
  5. “A parent’s dilemma: When will it be safe to send our kids back to school?” Sewing. The Houston Chronicle. August 2020. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/life/article/A-parent-s-dilemma-When-will-it-be-safe-to-15481479.php
  6. “Why Parents, With ‘No Good Choice’ This School Year, Are Blaming One Another.” Miller. The New York Times. August 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/13/upshot/coronavirus-school-parents-difficult-choices.html
  7. “Why the Relationship Between Kids and the Spread of COVID Remains Unclear.” Mostafavi. Michigan Health. August 2020. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/childrens-health/why-relationship-between-kids-and-spread-of-covid-remains-unclear
  8. “Students have lost learning due to COVID-19. Here are the economic consequences.” Holzer, Lanich. Brookings. May 2020. https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/students-have-lost-learning-due-to-covid-19-here-are-the-economic-consequences/
  9. “COVID-19 and student learning in the United States: The hurt could last a lifetime.” Dorn, Hancock, Sarakatsannis, and Viruleg. McKinsey & Company. June 2020. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/covid-19-and-student-learning-in-the-united-states-the-hurt-could-last-a-lifetime
  10. “Working Moms Bear Brunt of Home Schooling While Working During COVID-19.” Heggeness, Fields. The U.S. Census Bureau. August 2020. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2020/08/parents-juggle-work-and-child-care-during-pandemic.html?#
  11. “Reynolds requests Presidential Major Disaster Declaration; says Iowa needs $3.99 billion.” KCCI Des Moines. August 2020. https://www.kcci.com/article/gov-reynolds-requests-presidential-major-disaster-declaration-derecho-iowa/33616434
  12. “At least 5 dead, nearly 700,000 acres burned as massive fires threaten Northern and Central California.” Lin, Money, Miller, Serna, and Chabria. The Los Angeles Times. August 2020. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-20/evacuations-widen-bay-area-fires-threaten-san-jose
  13. Watts. WDBJ7 Weather. August 2020. https://twitter.com/wattsupbrent/status/1296658027609821188
  14. “Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019.” The White House. August 2020. https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/memorandum-authorizing-needs-assistance-program-major-disaster-declarations-related-coronavirus-disease-2019/
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