NPR Poll: Financial Pain From Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Much, Much Worse’ Than Expected

In America’s four largest cities, at least half of people say they have experienced the loss of a job or a reduction in wages or work hours in their household since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. That’s the finding of a new poll published Wednesday by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Many of these problems are concentrated among Black and Latino households in the four cities, according to the poll, which gathered responses from July 1 through Aug 3.

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‘I Try So Hard Not To Cry’: Nearly Half Of U.S. Households Face A Financial Crisis

Houston had an especially high proportion of Latino households (77%) and Black households (81%) reporting serious financial problems. But the other three cities in our survey have had high rates as well: 73% of Latinos in New York City tell us their household experienced serious financial problems since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, along with 71% of Latinos in Los Angeles and 63% in Chicago.

Majorities of Black households in Chicago (69%), New York City (62%) and Los Angeles (52%) also report serious financial problems.

Majority Of Households Report Facing Serious Financial Problems

In Houston, 63% of households reported having serious financial problems during the pandemic, compared with 46% of households nationally.


  • Overall

By Race/Ethnicity


  • White
  • Black
  • Latino

By Income


  • <$30K/yr
  • $30K – <$100K/yr
  • $100K+/yr


Respondents were asked if anyone in their household had a) serious problems paying mortgage/rent, b) serious problems paying utilities, c) serious problems making car payments, d) serious problems affording medical care, e) serious problems paying credit cards/loans/other debt, f) serious problems affording food, g) other serious financial problems, or if they used up all or most of their savings.

Source: NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll of 447 Houston adults conducted July 1-Aug. 3. The margin of error for the overall Houston sample is 6.3 percentage points.

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