Were Americans ready for COVID-19?
Coronavirus rent crisis:
Millions of Americans are having trouble paying rent next month
Most Americans say Coronavirus Outbreak has impacted their lives. As job losses and unemployment were continuing to increase as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, more than half of Americans who rent their residence say they lack confidence they will be able to pay May rent in full.

'The novel coronavirus outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China, in December, 2020 has expanded to touch every corner of the globe. Millions of people around the world have been sickened and hundreds of thousands of others have died.'(ABC News, Timeline: How coronavirus got started) Many countries, including US, have declared restrictive measures, such as lockdown, shelter in place, or stay at home orders, to contain the pandemic at a local level. Unemployment rate has been growing as the virus was spreading affecting not only daily lives but the ability to buy food and pay rent.

To measure household experiences during the coronavirus pandemic U.S. Census Bureau’s designed experimental Household Pulse Survey. The Household Pulse Survey is a 20-minute online survey studying how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting households across the country from a social and economic perspective. The survey asks questions about how education, employment, food security, health, housing, social security benefits, household spending, stimulus payments, and transportation have been affected by the ongoing crisis.

Data collection for Phase 1 of the Household Pulse Survey began on April 23, 2020, ended on July 21, 2020, and included 12 weekly table releases.
Phase 2 of the survey begins on August 19, 2020, and the Census Bureau expects to collect data through October, 2020, releasing data every two weeks.
In his article we are going to explore the first weeks of Household Pulse Survey, which take places on the end of April and the beginning of May. The graph below represents total numbers of survey participants from May 2020 to October 2020 and their confidence of paying rent next month.

Americans' confidence in being able to pay next month's rent

*Note: Phase 1 of the Household Pulse Survey was collected and disseminated on a weekly basis. Phase 2 has a two-week collection and dissemination period. Despite going to a two-week collection period, the Household Pulse Survey continues to call these collection periods "weeks" for continuity with Phase 1.

The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for many Americans to generate income and, as a result, pay their rent.
'The unemployment rate in April 2020 increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7 percent. This is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the data (available back to January 1948). The number of unemployed persons rose by 15.9 million to 23.1 million in April. The sharp increases in these measures reflect the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to contain it.'(U.S. Bureau Of Labor statistics, Unemployment rate rises to record high 14.7 percent in April 2020)

To confront the Coronavirus people had to adapt the new regulations and life style. Millions of Americans had to change their jobs or learn new skills and find a new one. However, unlike many other countries, Americans were provided with unemployment benefits and stimulus checks.
To see the level of readiness and first response to the pandemic I decided to compare the first two weeks of the Household survey and show how the numbers of people having lack of confidence in paying rent were changing while they were realizing how serious the pandemic situation is.

Percentage of people having No Confidence in paying rent by state

Please select the date to see how the lack of confidence has changed in one week

  • 52% of American renters say they are confident they will be able to pay full rent in May, compared to 69% who said they could in April, according to a new survey, but those numbers could change as more federal stimulus checks hit bank accounts.

  • 63% of renters said they have suffered income losses related to Covid-19

  • A significant percentage of renters plan to move within six months.
    (CNBC, Only about half of Americans are confident they can pay full rent in May)
  • As many as 44.7 million people could be out of work due to COVID-19 by the end of May.

  • On Friday, March 27th, 2020 President Trump has signed $2 trillion economic relief plan to offer assistance to tens of millions of American households affected by the coronavirus pandemic (New York Times, F.A.Q. on Stimulus Checks, Unemployment and the Coronavirus Plan). The $2 trillion relief package is sending money directly to Americans, greatly expanding unemployment coverage and making a number of other changes.
    Part of the stimulus package from the US government was onetime cash payments of up to $1,200 to Americans who qualify. The IRS sent more then 159 million payment as of June 5, mostly by direct deposit and paper check.

    Percentage of people having No Confidence in paying rent by category

  • 40 % of working-age renters are worried about paying their rent (People Can’t Pay Their Rent, What Comes Next?)

  • The gap between Black and White unemployment rates tends to grow when unemployment rises

  • 'Even before the pandemic, 23 million people in 10.7 million low-income households paid more than half their income in rent, and rents across the country had become increasingly unaffordable. The median renter household income rose just 0.5 percent from 2001 to 2018 after adjusting for inflation, while rents rose nearly 13 percent. Even before the pandemic, a parent working full-time at the federal minimum wage could not afford a modest two-bedroom apartment in any state without receiving rental assistance or having to make tough choices between paying the rent and meeting essential daily needs such as food, medicine, and child care.

    When families spend so much of their income on rent, it is harder for them to save, which makes it nearly impossible to meet basic needs if they lose a job, their income falls, or costs for basic needs rise.' (Ann Oliva, The Rent Is Still Due: America’s Renters, COVID-19, and an Unprecedented Eviction Crisis)

    Coronavirus has affected everyone and everything individually and globally. Millions of people around the world have been sickened and hundreds of thousands of others have died. One day it will become a history, but right now the least we can do is to prepare ourselves and our children for such unforeseen global events.
    Unlike the behavior of unknown viruses, the financial situation in our family IS predictable. Let's learn the lesson and start thinking about it now.

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    By Nadezda Chikurova, December 2020