Millions of Americans expect to lose wages in the next four weeks.
Millions of Americans don’t have enough to eat, are falling behind on housing payments or have had trouble paying their bills. And millions of Americans are lapsing into poverty.
As the coronavirus surges again across the nation, the fragile economic recovery is showing more cracks. The pace of job growth has slowed and more people are filing for unemployment for the first time.
After weeks of negotiations, Congress is preparing to vote on a fresh stimulus package. Lawmakers are looking at providing another round of stimulus checks, temporarily boosting jobless payments again and extending two key pandemic unemployment programs.
Here’s how things are getting tougher for Americans.
More people in poverty
Nearly 8 million more Americans have joined the ranks of the poor since June, according to researchers from the University of Chicago and University of Notre Dame.
The poverty rate jumped to 11.7% in November, up from 9.3% in June. That’s nearly double the largest annual increase in poverty since the 1960s.
The rise is most noticeable among Black Americans, whose poverty rate went up by 3.1 percentage points, and among those with a high school education or less, who saw a 5.1 percentage point spike.
The poverty rate is increasing even though the unemployment rate fell by 40% over the same period. This disconnect between the two is not surprising since some government benefits have expired, including a $600 federal boost in jobless payments, the researchers said.
The decline in poverty over the first six months of the year was due to the one-time stimulus checks distributed in the spring and the historic expansion of unemployment benefits, the researchers found in an earlier study.
Just under 27.4 million adults, or 12.7%, were in households where there was sometimes or often not enough to eat in the last seven days, according to the most recent Census Household Pulse Survey, which covers November 25 to December 7.
About a month earlier, the number was 25.8 million, or 12%.
Some 19.4% of Arkansas residents suffered from food scarcity, but only 6.4% of Maine residents did. The unemployment rates in those states were 6.2% and 5.0% in November, respectively.
Among households with children, 17.5% sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past weeks, according to the Census data. That compares with 16.1% two weeks prior.
Trouble paying the bills
More than 85.4 million adults, or 35.6%, live in a household where it’s been somewhat or very difficult to pay for usual household expenses during the pandemic, the Census survey found.
That’s up from 80.9 million, or 33.7%, roughly a month earlier.
Nevada, which tied for the nation’s second highest unemployment rate at 10.1%, had the highest share of folks who had trouble meeting their expenses at nearly 45%.
In South Dakota, less than 25% of residents were in that situation. The state has one of the lowest unemployment rates at 3.5%.
Falling behind on rent or mortgage
Nearly 13 million adults, or 9.1%, are not current on their rent or mortgage, or have slight or no confidence that they can pay next month’s housing bill on time, according to the Census data.
That’s up from 11.1 million two weeks prior, or 7.9%.
Louisiana, where the unemployment rate was 8.3% in November, had the highest share of people in this situation, at 15.9%.
But only 2.3% of Montana residents couldn’t pay their housing costs. The state’s unemployment rate was 4.9%.
Fear about losing wages loom
Nearly 76.7 million adults, or 31%, expect someone in their household to have a loss in employment income in the next four weeks, the Census survey found.
About a month earlier, the number was 64.2 million, or just under 26%.
Nevada again ranked first at 45.1%, while South Dakota fared the best at 20.5%.
This story has been updated with details of the stimulus deal reached Sunday.