COVID & Unemployment

Food insecurity, payment trouble hit those who lost jobs during COVID, study finds

Mitchell Hartman Apr 14, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
"About 1 in 3 adults reported food insecurity in 2020, 1 in 5 had trouble paying the rent or mortgage, and utility bills," Michael Karpman at the Urban Institute said of households that lost jobs. oonal via Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

Food insecurity, payment trouble hit those who lost jobs during COVID, study finds

Mitchell Hartman Apr 14, 2021
Heard on:
"About 1 in 3 adults reported food insecurity in 2020, 1 in 5 had trouble paying the rent or mortgage, and utility bills," Michael Karpman at the Urban Institute said of households that lost jobs. oonal via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

A new study by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation tries to quantify just how much material hardship has increased and for whom over the last year.

A surprising thing happened in the pandemic downturn, said Michael Karpman at the Urban Institute: The share of Americans reporting they didn’t have enough to eat or couldn’t pay their bills actually fell.

But, when you look at just households where someone lost their job, it’s a different story, Karpman said. “About 1 in 3 adults reported food insecurity in 2020, 1 in 5 had trouble paying the rent or mortgage, and utility bills.”

Karpman said that for many families hit by job loss, even multiple government relief payments and safety-net supports couldn’t keep hunger and bill collectors at bay.

But for families that kept their jobs, government financial help left many a little better off than before the pandemic.

“Stimulus payments and unemployment benefits have fueled the spending of low-income families, and I think kept our economy chugging along,” said Fiona Greig at the JPMorgan Chase Institute.

She said that without government help, a lot more families would be in financial distress.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Read More

Collapse

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.