Last week’s report on unemployment underscored the catastrophic impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on the U.S. economy. The focus in many states has now turned to reopening businesses and getting people back to work. However, most Americans – including 68% of those who have lost their jobs or taken a cut in pay due to the coronavirus outbreak – are concerned that state governments will lift restrictions too quickly, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. A similar share of Americans whose jobs were not affected say the same (69%). On the other hand, only about three-in-ten U.S. adults in these categories expressed more concern that restrictions would not be lifted quickly enough.
Republicans and Democrats differ overall in their desire to reopen the economy. But within each party, those who have lost their jobs or seen a reduction in wages are no more likely to want to reopen quickly. Among Republicans and those who lean to the Republican Party, people who have experienced job or wage loss are about evenly split: 45% say their greater concern is that state governments will lift restrictions too quickly, while 54% say their bigger concern is states not lifting restrictions quickly enough. Views of Republicans who have not had a change in their jobs follow a similar pattern (47% worry about opening too quickly, 52% worry about not opening quickly enough).
The vast majority of Democrats and those who lean Democratic, regardless of the impact that the coronavirus epidemic has had on their employment, say their greatest concern is that state governments will lift restrictions too quickly. About eight-in-ten or more Democrats who have lost their jobs or taken a pay cut (83%) and those who have not (88%) say this.
As more states move to lift restrictions on public activity aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus, this study sought to assess the attitudes of Americans about this and to further document job and wage losses related to the coronavirus outbreak. This post draws on a survey of 10,957 U.S. adults from April 29 to May 5, 2020. Everyone who took part is a member of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.
Amid concerns over how state governments will handle restrictions, Americans who have felt the economic impact of the coronavirus personally are more likely than those who have not to say restrictions in their area need to increase. Among those who have lost their job or wages due to the pandemic, one-third say there should be more restrictions on public activity in their area right now, compared with about a quarter of those who haven’t lost their job or wages (24%). Sizable shares of both those who have experienced job disruption (42%) and those who have not (51%) say there should be about the same number of restrictions as there are now. Americans in either employment situation are equally likely to say there should be fewer restrictions in their area (24% among both those who lost jobs or wages and those who have not).
And while Democrats and Republicans also diverge overall in their views of how their area should handle restrictions on public activity, similar patterns persist within both of the parties: Those who have experienced job or wage loss are more likely than those who have not to say their area should have more restrictions than it has now.
Americans who have lost their job or taken a pay cut due to the outbreak are nearly twice as likely as those who have not experienced either to see the coronavirus pandemic as a threat to their own personal financial situation. About six-in-ten adults who lost their job or wages (61%) say the outbreak is a threat to their personal finances, compared with a third of Americans who have not experienced this (33%). Roughly nine-in-ten Americans, regardless of employment status, say the outbreak is a major threat to the U.S. economy (88% and 89%, respectively).
Overall, nearly one-in-five Americans (17%) say they have lost their job as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, and about a quarter of Americans (23%) say they had to take a cut in pay due to reduced hours or demand for their work; 10% of Americans say they experienced both a pay cut and job loss. About one-in-five say someone else in their immediate household lost their job (18%) or lost wages (22%). In total, 43% of Americans say they or someone in their household has lost a job or wages.
Job and wage losses continue to be felt more acutely by some groups than others. Hispanic adults (43%) – particularly those born outside the U.S. – are among the most likely to say they’ve personally experienced pay cuts or job loss due to the coronavirus outbreak, as are those ages 18 to 29 (40%), adults with lower incomes (36%) and those with a high school degree or less (33%). These patterns mirror previous findings, when the questions were asked in a somewhat different format.