May 20, 2020 - Economy & Business

Coronavirus is bringing economic suffering across the U.S.

Data: Census Household Pulse Survey; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Nearly half of U.S. households have lost income since mid-March — but the suffering varies widely by state, according to survey data released Wednesday by the Census Bureau.

Why it matters: Income losses are particularly common in states that have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, like New York and New Jersey. But Southern states like Mississippi have experienced some of the most dire economic impacts, such as food scarcity and housing insecurity.

The big picture: The Census Bureau released the first two weeks of data on Wednesday from its new weekly survey intended to gauge how Americans are faring during the pandemic.

In the latest results, more than half of respondents in Hawaii, New Jersey, Nevada, Louisiana, Michigan, California, New York and Oregon said they or someone in their household had experienced a loss in employment revenue.

  • Many of these states have large tourism industries and high density cities — some of which suffered massive COVID-19 outbreaks.
  • Between the two weeks of survey results, Virginia saw the greatest increase in the percent of people claiming to have experienced income loss — rising from 38% to 48%.
  • D.C. had the lowest percentage of residents claiming to have experienced income loss (33%), but it also had the second-highest rate of food scarcity.
  • States with the lowest percentage of people losing income include Wyoming, Kansas, Idaho and Montana.

Yes, but: Despite the widespread loss of income since mid-March, 72% of respondents in a new Quinnipiac University poll say their own financial situation is "excellent" or "good."

Meanwhile, a handful of Southern states saw more people struggling with essential basics like food and shelter, according to the Census survey, even though fewer people there reported experiencing pay cuts.

  • In Mississippi, 45% missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or said they had little to no confidence their household could pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time.
  • 20% said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week.
  • The stats show a significant rise in these kinds of economic struggles for Mississippi in only a few weeks.
    • The results from the first Census survey taken one to two weeks prior found that 34% of Mississippi respondents said they faced housing insecurity, and 12% food scarcity.
  • Around a third of respondents in Oklahoma and Louisiana also reported housing insecurity; 14% of Louisianans said they'd had trouble getting enough food.
  • Those problems were not confined to the South: Illinois, too, had some of the highest rates of housing insecurity (33%) and food scarcity (14%).

The bottom line: The experimental Census survey — based on responses provided by 74,413 people for week one results and 41,996 people for week two results— is meant to provide critical information to government and industry leaders as they weigh public health decisions and look to rebuild the economy.

Go deeper

Trump backs off push to federalize forces against riots

Photo: Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images

A day after threatening to federalize forces to snuff out riots across the country, the president appears to be backing off the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act, sources familiar with his plans tell Axios.

What we're hearing: Aides say he hasn’t ruled out its use at some point, but that he's “pleased” with the way protests were handled last night (apart from in New York City, as he indicated on Twitter today) — and that for now he's satisfied with leaving the crackdown to states through local law enforcement and the National Guard.

Updates: George Floyd protests continue for 8th day

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day, prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: The National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday that while it "is committed to the peaceful expression of First Amendment rights," it "cannot tolerate violence to citizens or officers or damage to our nation’s resources that we are entrusted to protect."

American carnage

Protesters race up a hill to avoid tear gas in Philadelphia, June 1. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The list of victims has swiftly grown since George Floyd died in police custody just eight days ago.

The big picture: Protests against police brutality have turned into a showcase of police brutality, with tear gas and rubber bullets deployed against crowds. The police have the arsenals at their disposal, but we're also seeing law enforcement officers becoming targets.