Pandemic Hit Less-Educated Workers Hardest, Fed Survey Shows -- Update
By Paul Kiernan
WASHINGTON -- The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic
was concentrated among minorities, women and workers who hadn't
finished high school, according to a new survey from the Federal
Three-fourths of U.S. adults reported doing at least OK
financially in November 2020, a share that was unchanged from
previous years, the Fed said Monday.
But that finding masked significant divergences in economic
well-being between workers who retained their jobs and those who
were laid off, households with more education and those with less,
and those who have children versus those without.
Among adults with less than a high-school diploma, 45% reported
doing at least OK financially, down from 54% in 2019. Among those
with a bachelor's degree or higher, the percentage rose to 89% from
88%, the Fed said in its annual Survey of Household Economics and
Decisionmaking, which polls more than 11,000 individuals.
"People who retained their jobs during the pandemic generally
had stable or improving finances in 2020," the Fed said. "However,
those who suffered a layoff and an extended period of unemployment
saw a deterioration of their financial circumstances."
The survey was consistent with other data that have emerged
since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic showing a K-shaped
recovery in the economy, with affluent households generally doing
better while those at the lower end of the income scale doing
Trillions of dollars of relief spending enacted since the start
of the pandemic, including direct payments to most Americans and
enhanced unemployment benefits, softened the financial blow to
households, the Fed said. The share of adults who received
unemployment income jumped to 14% in 2020 from 2% in 2019.
The share of adults ages 25 to 54 who weren't working was 26% in
November, up from 21% a year earlier, according to the survey. The
percentage that cited child care or family obligations as a reason
for not working rose to 9% from 8% in 2019.
The pandemic caused many school districts to suspend in-person
learning, forcing millions of parents to juggle work and child-care
responsibilities. The Biden administration has argued that child
care is a major hurdle to the labor market's recovery, particularly
after an unexpected slowdown in hiring last month.
A separate economic report released Monday suggested those
effects may be overstated.
While women with children younger than 13 have experienced
relatively high rates of job loss over the past year, men with
young children have lost jobs at a lower rate than men without
them, according to an analysis by economists Jason Furman, Melissa
Kearney and Wilson Powell. Mr. Furman served as the top economic
adviser to former President Barack Obama.
"While school closures and ongoing child-care challenges have
substantially burdened parents and children alike, they do not
appear to be a meaningful driver of the slow employment recovery,"
the economists wrote in a blog post. "Overall, parents of young
children did not leave the workforce substantially more than other
The Fed survey suggested that the biggest driver of the increase
in joblessness since the pandemic began was that people couldn't
find work. That was the reason cited by 9% of prime-age adults in
the November survey, compared with 5% a year earlier.
Write to Paul Kiernan at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 17, 2021 15:08 ET (19:08 GMT)
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