One Year Into Pandemic, Nearly Half of Americans Still Financially Struggling

Caucasian Mature woman posing with her son, both with protective masks, very sad looking through window worried about loss of her job due Covid-19 pandemic.
Juanmonino / Getty Images

A new survey by Prudential Financial suggests one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are in a worse situation than ever. The Prudential Financial Wellness Census suggests that 46 percent of Americans still describe themselves as “financially struggling,” while 40 percent say it will take years to recover

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One-Third of Respondents Earning Less Than $30,000, Drawing on Savings To Survive

The survey was a follow-up from Prudential’s May 2020 study, but shows U.S. households could be struggling even further as a result of the pandemic. Of the 2,201 respondents between 24- and 74-years-old, 36 percent said their annual household income dropped under $30,000 — nearly double the number from May 2020. Moreover, 61 percent who remained employed said they found it increasingly difficult to keep up with financial obligations. 

To make ends meet, households are turning to emergency funds now more than ever. Around one-third of the respondents said they turned to selling possessions, drawing down savings, or borrowing from friends and family. 

“The pandemic has plunged many Americans into a desperate struggle to pay their rent and other bills, and feed their families,” Jamie Kalamarides, president of Prudential Group Insurance, said in a press release. “Job losses don’t tell the whole story, as even many of those still at work are under greater strain from pay cuts or increased caregiving and childcare needs.”

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According to Prudential, employers have the opportunity to help workers build financial security and drive the recovery forward. Smaller companies can take advantage of multiple employer retirement plans made available through the SECURE Act, while larger companies can consider guaranteed income solutions to aid retirement savings. 

Still, workers say the government needs to do more to support families and caregivers. Over three-fourths said legislators need to prioritize child care and caregiving solutions, while 80 percent said more should be done to give access to paid family leave. 

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Survey Mirrors Uncertainty About the Post-Pandemic Economy

The financial concerns expressed by the respondents reflect the greater worries about what the economy will look like after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Experts suggest that while Americans could save more, they will spend more, too — all while continuing to struggle with unemployment.

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About the Author

Joe Cortez is a personal finance writer for GoBankingRates. With over a decade of experience in financial journalism, Joe brings an insider knowledge of all things consumer finance, including credit cards, mortgages, and banking accounts. His work has appeared at NerdWallet, Business Insider and NextAdvisor. He is a member of the Society for Professional Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Radio-Television-Digital News Association.
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