Washington, April 13 (IANS) The financial impact of the coronavirus has begun to hit Americans hard as nearly 33 per cent of voters have already lost their job, been furloughed, placed on temporary leave, or had hours reduced – with 41 per cent of those whove lost a job already reporting having trouble covering basic costs.

According to a new survey by non-profit research group Data for Progress, while over half of voters under age 45 (52 per cent) have lost their job, been placed on leave or had hours cut, only 26 per cent of those over 45 fall into this category.

Slightly more men (37 per cent) fall into the job loss/furlough category than women (31 per cent).

“While the burden of the coronavirus has fallen heaviest on the elderly, it is younger voters who are paying a higher economic toll. With unemployment numbers literally off the charts, most states under lockdown and an uncertain future ahead, it is important for policymakers to understand the toll this is taking on the public,” explained the report on the staggering economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Black voters are feeling the worst of the financial crisis with almost half (45 per cent) reporting they’ve lost jobs, hours, or been put on leave.

The survey team also asked voters how many weeks of expenses for their family the $1,200 per adult ($500 per child) payment recently passed into law would cover.

“We find that this payment is inadequate for the scale and expected likely length of the crisis, as 77 per cent of voters report that the payment would cover a month (40 percent) or less (37 per cent) of their expenses,” said the survey.

Among people who have already suffered some loss in income because of the pandemic, 41 per cent anticipate having difficulty covering costs immediately and 81 per cent within the next month.

Most voters report that if they lost their current income, they would be able to go 2 months or less before they were unable to pay their bills.

“Americans do not have the cushion to survive a shock to their income of this magnitude without assistance, as 51 percent report being able to go one month or less without income without having issues paying bills, and we will only see the proportion of people having difficulty covering basic costs increase as the crisis goes on,” the findings showed.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City has surpassed the 100,000 mark with a total of 6,898 deaths, taking the overall number of infections and fatalities in the US to 557,571 and 22,108, respectively, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.

With this, the US now accounts for the highest number of cases and deaths in the world, with the state of New York becoming the epicentre of the pandemic in the country. As of Sunday midnight, the state reported 190,288 COVID-19 cases with 9,385 fatalities.

The survey, which took replies from 2,644 likely voters nationally, using web panel respondents, found that Americans will not be able to ride out this crisis on their own.

“Most report that if they lost their income, they could go only a month or less before being unable to pay their bills. Non-college respondents and American Americans are even more likely to have a minimal cushion and report being able to go as little as a week without income,” it noted.

According to Data for Progress, the combination of a lack of personal safety net (measured as how long you could go without income before forgoing basic needs, less than a month for the majority of voters) and the inadequacy of the current assistance (covering a month or less for most people) means that as the crisis intensifies and unemployment goes up, voters will desperately need more help to survive.

–IANS

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