New Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows coronavirus hitting the working class much harder than the wealthy

Andrew Romano
·West Coast Correspondent
·2 min read

The economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic has hit working-class Americans much harder than their wealthier peers, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.

Twenty percent of Americans who were employed two months ago now say they have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus — a number that has doubled over the past two weeks. But those earning less than $50,000 a year were three times more likely to be out of work than those making six-figure salaries. Thirty-seven percent of the under-$50,000 group say their wages have been cut, compared with 24 percent of those earning more than $100,000. And members of the less affluent group were twice as likely to say they might lose their jobs in the next month.

These income disparities also affect where people are working — and by extension, their risk of contracting the coronavirus while on the job. The survey found that 66 percent of Americans earning more than $100,000 are now working from home, compared with just 18 percent of those with incomes under $50,000. Of those working on-site, a full 58 percent say they are either “very” or “somewhat” worried about getting infected. Only 43 percent of employed workers — and 31 percent of those earning less than $50,000 — say they have paid sick leave.

Despite such inequities, the economic impact of the pandemic has been widespread. One month ago, only 37 percent of Americans said the economy was getting worse. Today, that number is 63 percent. The employment situation is equally bleak. Of those who are still employed, 31 percent believe it’s either “very” or “somewhat” likely they will lose their jobs in the next month. The same number (31 percent) say their pay or hours have already been reduced.

The consequences of continuing economic upheaval could be profound. Thirteen percent of Americans — one in eight — say they will not be able to pay their rent or mortgage next month. Thirty-four percent say they are using their savings to pay for living expenses. And without employment, 49 percent predict they would exhaust their savings either this month or next.

Emergency medical technicians wheel a patient into Elmhurst Hospital Center's emergency room on April 7, 2020, in the Queens borough in New York, during the current coronavirus outbreak. (Kathy Willens/AP)
Emergency medical technicians wheel a coronavirus patient into Elmhurst Hospital Center's emergency room in Queens, N.Y., on April 7. (Kathy Willens/AP)

The Yahoo! News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,566 U.S. adult residents interviewed online between April 6-7, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S residents. The margin of error is approximately 3.4 percent.

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Click here for the latest coronavirus news and updates. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please refer to the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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