Roughly 1 in 3 Americans reported they felt some kind of economic pain – be it loss of income or their job entirely – as the COVID-19 outbreak grinds the regional and national economy to a halt.
The Monmouth University Poll, released Monday, found 35 percent of respondents lost income either due to a decrease in hours worked or to a decline in business, as millions of people shelter in their homes to avoid contact with the virus.
The poll, which interviewed 851 adults nationwide, found that 31 percent of respondents had their hours cut or their position eliminated entirely.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents – 66 percent – reported they have not been shopping at brick and mortar stores, while 22 percent said they were spending more time online shopping.
Another 20 percent reported they started working from home for the first time.
The sudden drop of commerce, ordered by Gov. Phil Murphy in New Jersey over the past week and a half, has been part of a “social distancing” effort to reduce the kind of in-person contact that might provide the COVID-19 virus with new hosts. Public gatherings of any size have been banned, residents have been ordered to stay at home, and most businesses that entail any number of people coming together have been ordered to indefinitely close their doors.
This has so far led to a surge in unemployment this month, a trend that Murphy said is certain to continue in the coming weeks with no end in sight for the statewide shutdowns.
Moreover, the halt of commerce has led to gaping holes in the state budget, which could take tens of billions of federal bailout dollars in order to fill.
“The coronavirus outbreak has probably heightened the economic and health care anxieties we usually see at the top of this list,” Monmouth University Poll Director Pat Murray said in the March 23 report.
“But the huge number of people who name COVID-19 as their top concern on this standard polling question illustrates just how all-consuming this pandemic has become in Americans’ daily lives,” Murray added.
Monmouth conducted the interviews via phone between March 18 and 22. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.4 percent.