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COVID-19 hits lower-income Americans hardest: RPT

Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers joins Zack Guzman to discuss the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Highlight a couple more things from the aspects of the pandemic that we've been watching. If you've been watching the show, you've noticed how we've been documenting the way that it's been impacting communities differently. And on that front, new research here has pointed out that it's not just unemployment here that's been roiled in terms of some communities versus others. We've highlighted the fact the unemployment rate for Black and Hispanic Americans remains well above the rebound that we've seen amidst white Americans.

But now also digging into the way that those communities are grappling with affording a lot of the things that we've been talking about in this pandemic, whether it be food or other unforeseen costs. And here to discuss that with us is Yahoo Finance's Kristin Myers. And Kristin, talk to me about what you're seeing play out on that front. Because obviously, if you don't have a job, it's going to be a lot harder to grapple with all these things.

KRISTIN MYERS: Hey, Zack, yeah. So this is a new study that is actually out from Pew Research. And as you had mentioned before you tried to go to break first, about this, that we've talked a lot about the impact of coronavirus on lower income Americans, and also how it's impacting folks disproportionately among different races.

So Pew Research actually went out and did some surveys, and has actually broken all of that data out for us so that we can see that lower income Americans are being disproportionately impacted financially by this virus. So I just want to give you some of the highlights from this study. And first just give a broad overall picture. So overall, this is every one of all socio-economic levels.

One in four adults are actually having trouble paying their bills, while one in three have dipped into their savings or their retirement accounts in order to pay some of those bills and make ends meet. Now roughly one in six have either had to borrow money from friends or family, or have had to go visit a food bank or get food from some sort of organization.

Now I want to give you specifically how this is impacting folks that are on the bottom here, some of the folks that are struggling, those lower income folks. So while I said one in four adults, for example, have trouble paying their bills, if you are lower income, almost half, Zack, said that they're having trouble paying their bills. That's 46%. 32% say that it's hard, been hard for them to either pay rent or make their mortgage payments. As I mentioned, 32% for a lower income.

If you are upper income, that's only 3% that have reported that same struggle. 11% of folks in the middle. And about half of those folks, those adults that lost their job, those millions of Americans that you and I have been chatting about week after week that lost their job, half of them say that they have actually not found a new job yet. They are still unemployed.

I also just want to quickly highlight here some of the differences, at least when it comes to race. As I mentioned, there were about 46 of Americans, lower income Americans, have trouble paying bills. That number is 43% if you are black, 18% if you are white, and 37% if you are Hispanic. So as we discussed before, not only is this hitting those lower income, low wage workers the most, there's also a disproportionate financial impact on minorities, particularly black and Hispanic communities and households.

43% of Hispanic households, 40% of Black respondents to this survey said that they were using money from savings or their retirement to pay their bills. That's only compared to about a third. 29% of white folks who reported the same thing. You see that number come again, that big spike there for minorities, Black and Hispanic, 33% and 30% of them are reporting that they needed to get food from either a food bank or some sort of charity. that's only compared to about 11% of white Americans, Zack. So we're just seeing here how this pandemic is disproportionately impacting unfortunately, folks on the bottom, and those minority communities.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, we talked about how inequality continues to rise in this country. The pandemic doing its part to see that through here in 2020. But Kristin Myers, appreciate you bringing us that.