Poll: Nearly 1 In 5 Households Have Lost Work Because Of Pandemic

A Brooklyn restaurant tells would-be customers it is closed on Sunday, after a decree that all bars and restaurants in New York City shut down.
A Brooklyn restaurant tells would-be customers it is closed on Sunday, after a decree that all bars and restaurants in New York City shut down.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has already started to hit American pocketbooks, with nearly 1 in 5 households experiencing a layoff or a reduction in work hours, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

As people stay home, avoid crowds and cancel plans to avoid spreading the disease, it's rapidly causing a contraction in economic activity that is hurting a wide range of businesses.

Restaurants, bars, hotels and airlines are among the hardest-hit industries, but the ripple effects of the drop in demand are expected to spread across virtually the entire economy.

As of March 13-14, when the new poll was conducted, layoffs and reduced hours had already hit 18% of U.S. households.

Lower-income workers were the most affected: A quarter of households making less than $50,000 had experienced cut hours or a job loss.

And even those who haven't lost work because of the coronavirus are often working differently because of the pandemic.

A third of American households have had at least one person change their work routine because of the coronavirus. College graduates (43%) were more likely to experience this shift than nongraduates (25%).

Many businesses have allowed or instructed people to work from home to reduce their exposure to the virus. But many jobs, particularly blue-collar and service or retail jobs, cannot be done remotely.

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