Nearly half of Americans have seen their income decline during the coronavirus pandemic, which dragged the nation's economy into the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
That's according to a new study published Thursday by Bankrate.com, which found that 49 percent of U.S. adults have experienced a negative impact on their income as a result of the crisis, most frequently through layoffs, furloughs or a reduction in hours.
Of the respondents whose income dropped, just 17 percent said it's returned to normal, while 42 percent expect it to return to pre-crisis levels within the next six months. Thirty-seven percent believe it will take longer than six months, and four percent think their income will never fully recover.
“The widespread hit to household income from the pandemic, the length of time for that income to recover, and a pervasive fear of it happening again will all weigh on the economic recovery,” Bankrate's chief financial analyst Greg McBride said. “Lower-income and worries about lower-income have a direct effect on consumer spending.”
The survey of 3,753 adults, which was conducted June 18-23, found that the reduction in household income more-heavily impacted Gen Z (ages 18 to 23), millennials (ages 24 to 39) and Gen X (ages 40 to 55), all of which saw more than half of households negatively affected.
A growing concern among Americans is that another coronavirus outbreak will further hurt their finances: 92 percent of respondents who already suffered an income reduction are worried about what a resurgence in cases would mean for their money, compared to 62 percent of those who had not.
The nation reported more than 60,000 cases on Tuesday, hitting a fresh record for new cases reported in a single day amid a spike in California, Texas and Florida. In total, the U.S. has more than 3 million confirmed cases, the most in the world.
If the outbreak of the virus intensifies, forcing businesses to shut down again, economists have warned the consequences could be dire.
“I think a second wave would really undermine public confidence and might make for a significantly longer recovery and weaker recovery,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said at the end of May.
Congress has already approved three massive stimulus packages totaling nearly $3 trillion to offset the economic pain triggered by the outbreak of the virus and subsequent lockdown. That includes the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed into law at the end of March, which sent one-time payments of up to $1,200 to Americans; established the Paycheck Protection Program and expanded unemployment benefits by $600 per week through the end of July.
Negotiations between Congress and the Trump administration on another round of virus-related stimulus are set to begin in earnest later this month after lawmakers return to Washington from their two-week Fourth of July break.