COVID & Unemployment

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

Mitchell Hartman Apr 14, 2021
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"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
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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.

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