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Logo for Special Series: COVID Hardship Watch

Tracking the COVID-19 Recession’s Effects on Food, Housing, and Employment Hardships

UPDATED
November 20, 2020
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The unemployment rate is very high and millions report that their households did not get enough to eat or are not caught up on rent payments. We are able to track the extent of this hardship thanks to nearly real-time data from several sources on the unfolding economic crisis.

The impacts of the pandemic and the economic fallout have been widespread, but are particularly prevalent among Black, Latino,[1] Indigenous, and immigrant households. These disproportionate impacts reflect harsh, longstanding inequities — often stemming from structural racism — in education, employment, housing, and health care that the current crisis is exacerbating.

Relief measures have mitigated hardship, but there are significant gaps — including, for example, leaving out the poorest households from any increase in SNAP benefits — and implementation challenges that have delayed aid to some households. The measures, which are also temporary, have begun to expire.

The data below, which we will update periodically, drive home the need for substantial, continued relief measures. The extent and severity of continued hardships like hunger, eviction, and homelessness will depend on whether such relief is robust and reaches those in need, as well as the trajectory of the pandemic and the pace of economic recovery. The implications for children in particular are significant: households with children face especially high hardship rates, which research has shown can have serious effects on children’s long-term health and financial security.

Emerging Data Show High Rates of Hardship

The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, launched in April, has provided nearly real-time weekly data on how the unprecedented health and economic crisis is affecting the nation. Data from this and other sources, such as unemployment data from Census’ Current Population Survey and the Department of Labor, show that tens of millions of people are out of work and struggling to afford adequate food and pay the rent. The impacts on children are large (see figures 1, 4, and 5).

For more on our methodology and data by state, see tables 1-5 at the end of this document.

Difficulty Getting Enough Food

Data from several sources show a dramatic increase in the number of households struggling to put enough food on the table. Nearly 26 million adults — 12 percent of all adults in the country — reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days, according to Household Pulse Survey data collected October 28–November 9. This was far above the pre-pandemic rate: a recent survey released by the Agriculture Department found that 3.7 percent of adults reported that their household had “not enough to eat” at some point over the full 12 months of 2019.[2] When asked why, 85 percent said they “couldn’t afford to buy more food,” rather than (or in addition to) non-financial factors such as lack of transportation or safety concerns due to the pandemic.

Figure 1
For 1 in 7 Adults With Children, Household Lacked Sufficient Food in Last 7 Days

Adults in households with children were likelier to report that the household didn’t get enough to eat: 16 percent, compared to 9 percent for households without children. (See Figure 1.) And 10 to 14 percent of adults with children reported that their children sometimes or often didn’t eat enough in the last seven days because they couldn’t afford it, well above the pre-pandemic figure. Households typically first scale back on food for adults before cutting back on what children have to eat. (The 10-14 percent range reflects the different ways to measure food hardship in the Household Pulse Survey.)

Also, analysis of more detailed data from the Pulse survey collected October 14–26 shows that between 7 and 11 million children live in a household where children didn’t eat enough because the household couldn’t afford it. These figures are approximations; the Pulse Survey was designed to provide data on adult well-being, not precise counts of children.

Black and Latino adults were more than twice as likely as white adults to report that their household did not get enough to eat: 22 percent and 19 percent, respectively, compared to 9 percent of white adults. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2
Black and Latino Households Likelier to Experience Food Insufficiency During Pandemic

Inability to Pay Rent or Mortgage

The Household Pulse data also show that millions are not caught up on their rent or mortgage payments. Unfortunately, there are two concerns with the housing questions. First, the Census Bureau reworded the housing questions starting with the late-August survey, making the results non-comparable to earlier weeks of the survey. Second, a large share of the survey respondents chose not to answer the housing questions in the latest survey. This “non-response” is higher among groups that are younger, have lower levels of education, and identify as Black or Latino — groups that are more likely to struggle to afford rent, due to longstanding inequities often stemming from structural racism in education, employment, and housing. For these reasons, the Pulse data likely understate the number of people struggling to pay rent.

Even with these issues, however, the data indicate that millions are having difficulty paying rent. An estimated 13.4 million adults living in rental housing — nearly 1 in 5 adult renters — were not caught up on rent, according to data collected October 28–November 9.[3] Here, too, renters of color were more likely to report that their household was not caught up on rent: 33 percent of Black renters, 17 percent of Latino renters, and 16 percent of Asian renters said they were not caught up on rent, compared to 14 percent of white renters. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3
Nearly 1 in 6 Renters Not Caught Up on Rent During Pandemic, With Black, Asian, and Latino Renters Facing Greatest Hardship

In addition, 28 percent of renters who are parents or otherwise live with children reported that they were not caught up on rent, twice the 12 percent rate among adults not living with anyone under age 18. (See Figure 4.)

Figure 4
Renters Living With Children Twice As Likely to Not Be Caught Up on Rent

Children in renter households also face high rates of food hardship. Over 1 in 4 children living in rental housing live in a household that didn’t have enough to eat, according to data for October 14-26 (the latest detailed data that allow us to make these estimates). Four in 10 children living in rental housing live in a household that either isn’t getting enough to eat or is not caught up on rent. (See Figure 5.)

Figure 5
For More Than 4 in 10 Children in Renter Households, Household Faces Food and/or Housing Hardship

While households that don’t rent their homes but have mortgage payments typically have higher incomes than renters, they, too, can face difficulties, especially if they have lost their jobs or seen their incomes fall significantly. An estimated 10 million adults are in a household that is not caught up in its mortgage payment.[4]

Difficulty Covering Household Expenses

Since late August, the Household Pulse Survey has provided data on the overall number of adults struggling to cover usual household expenses such as food, rent or mortgage, car payments, medical expenses, or student loans. Nearly 81 million adults — 1 in 3 — reported it was somewhat or very difficult for their household to cover usual expenses in the past seven days, according to data collected October 28–November 9. While we don’t have comparable data from before the pandemic, the data noted above on rising levels of food hardship over pre-pandemic rates indicate that economic insecurity has increased.

Adults in households with children were more likely to report difficulty paying for usual expenses: 42 percent, compared to 29 percent for households without children. Financial hardship can have serious effects on children’s long-term health and education, research shows.[5]

In addition, Black and Latino adults reported difficulty covering expenses at higher rates: 52 percent and 47 percent, respectively, compared to 28 percent for Asian adults and 27 percent for white adults. (See Figure 6.) Although the survey does not provide data for other individual racial groups, 41 percent of American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and multiracial adults taken together reported difficulty paying for usual expenses.

Figure 6
1 in 3 Adults Had Trouble Paying for Usual Household Expenses in Last 7 Days

An estimated 43 percent of children live in households that have trouble covering usual expenses, according to our analysis of detailed data from the Pulse survey collected October 14–16. They include 62 percent of children in Black households, 55 percent of children in Latino households, 33 percent of children in white households, and 27 percent of children in Asian households. (The Pulse survey asks the race of the adult respondent, not the children.)

Unemployment Is High, With Job Losses Concentrated in Low-Paid Industries

The unemployment rate jumped in April to a level not seen since the 1930s — and still stood at 6.9 percent in October. Some 10.8 percent of Black workers and 8.8 percent of Latino workers were unemployed in October, compared to 6.0 percent of white workers. Unemployment has also risen faster among workers who were born outside the United States (this includes individuals who are now U.S. citizens) than U.S.-born workers. Changes in unemployment going forward will likely heavily depend on both how well the nation does in controlling the spread of the virus and the steps policymakers take to provide effective stimulus that boosts overall demand for goods and services.

The majority of jobs lost in the crisis have been in industries that pay low average wages, with the lowest-paying industries accounting for 30 percent of all jobs but 52 percent of the jobs lost from February to October, the latest month of Labor Department employment data. Jobs in low-paying industries were down almost twice as much between February and October 2020 (10.7 percent) as jobs in medium-wage industries (5.9 percent) and almost three times as much as in high-wage industries (3.6 percent). (See Figure 7.)

Figure 7
Job Losses Largest in Low-Wage Industries

Data from the Census Bureau’s monthly Current Population Survey released October 7 provide more detail on jobless workers and their family members:

  • Some 31 million people either met the official definition of “unemployed” (meaning they actively looked for work in the last four weeks or were on temporary layoff) or lived with an unemployed family member in September. This figure includes 7 million children.
  • The official definition of “unemployed” leaves out some workers sidelined by the crisis, such as those who are absent from their jobs without pay and jobless workers who want a job but aren’t currently looking for one. These include owners of businesses shut by the pandemic and people who have health concerns, are sick or caring for a sick relative, or need to care for their children because school or child care is closed. If we also include the family members of these workers, as many as 54 million people, or 1 in 6 people in the country, live in families with a sidelined worker.

State-by-State Food, Housing, and Employment Hardship Data

Data by state show that hardship is widespread. The following tables provide state-level data on:

  • the share of adults reporting that their household didn’t have enough to eat (Table 1);
  • the share of adults saying children in their household were not eating enough because they couldn’t afford enough (Table 1);
  • the increase in SNAP caseloads (Table 2);
  • the share of adults not caught up on rent (Table 3);
  • the share of adults saying their household had difficulty paying for their usual expenses (Table 4); and
  • the three-month moving average unemployment rate and recent jobless claim data (Table 5).

For data from the Pulse survey we average data collected October 14–26 and October 28–November 9 to improve the accuracy of the state estimates.

Differences in Pulse hardship rates between states may reflect sampling error, so we suggest not drawing strong conclusions from modest differences between states. The data do show, however, that high levels of hardship are widespread across the country.

Difficulty Getting Enough Food

The Pulse survey asks adult respondents if their household did not have enough to eat and if children in the household were not eating enough because the household couldn’t afford it.

TABLE 1
High Shares of Households Report Difficulty Getting Enough Food

Among adults; data collected October 14–November 9.

How to read this table: In the United States, over 24 million adults reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days. This represents 11 percent of all adults in the country. Nearly 12 million adults living with children reported that “the children were not eating enough because we just couldn’t afford enough food.” This represents 14 percent of adults living with children.

  Adults Reporting That Household Didn’t Have Enough to Eat Adults Reporting That Children in Household Weren’t Eating
Enough Because
Couldn’t Afford Enough
State Number As a Percent of Adults Number As a Percent of Adults Living with Children
United States 24,823,000 11% 11,694,000 14%
Alabama 470,000 15% 156,000 12%
Alaska 52,000 11% 27,000 14%
Arizona 589,000 12% 262,000 15%
Arkansas 263,000 13% 120,000 17%
California 3,056,000 12% 1,680,000 16%
Colorado 384,000 10% 173,000 11%
Connecticut 258,000 11% 112,000 13%
Delaware 81,000 12% 31,000 13%
District of Columbia 47,000 10% 22,000 13%
Florida 1,601,000 11% 667,000 13%
Georgia 856,000 12% 431,000 15%
Hawai’i 77,000 8% 48,000 12%
Idaho 113,000 9% 58,000 12%
Illinois 613,000 7% 425,000 13%
Indiana 542,000 12% 203,000 12%
Iowa 192,000 9% 66,000 9%
Kansas 183,000 10% 90,000 12%
Kentucky 380,000 13% 129,000 12%
Louisiana 561,000 19% 249,000 20%
Maine 70,000 8% 17,000 6%
Maryland 507,000 13% 263,000 16%
Massachusetts 386,000 8% 165,000 10%
Michigan 781,000 12% 263,000 11%
Minnesota 232,000 6% 139,000 10%
Mississippi 351,000 19% 191,000 23%
Missouri 452,000 11% 168,000 12%
Montana 62,000 9% 26,000 11%
Nebraska 138,000 11% 50,000 10%
Nevada 295,000 14% 193,000 22%
New Hampshire 75,000 8% 29,000 9%
New Jersey 486,000 8% 291,000 12%
New Mexico 191,000 13% 116,000 21%
New York 1,598,000 13% 576,000 12%
North Carolina 738,000 10% 361,000 13%
North Dakota 41,000 8% 21,000 13%
Ohio 981,000 13% 452,000 17%
Oklahoma 327,000 13% 132,000 12%
Oregon 262,000 9% 112,000 11%
Pennsylvania 987,000 11% 338,000 11%
Rhode Island 63,000 9% 25,000 11%
South Carolina 551,000 16% 236,000 17%
South Dakota 35,000 6% 12,000 5%
Tennessee 493,000 11% 200,000 11%
Texas 2,619,000 14% 1,513,000 19%
Utah 158,000 8% 69,000 7%
Vermont 39,000 9% 14,000 10%
Virginia 536,000 9% 302,000 14%
Washington 440,000 8% 219,000 12%
West Virginia 149,000 12% 48,000 11%
Wisconsin 416,000 11% 187,000 13%
Wyoming 44,000 11% 17,000 11%

Note: Figures are averages of data collected October 14–26 and October 28–November 9. In the latest data, collected October 28–November 9, 12 percent of all adults reported that their household “sometimes” or “often” in the last seven days had “not enough to eat,” while 14.3 percent of adults living with children reported that the children sometimes or often in the last seven days were “not eating enough because we just couldn't afford enough food.” As recommended by the Census Bureau, percentages exclude persons not replying to the question.

Source: Calculated by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities from Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey published tables “food2b,” “food3b,” and “food5,” for survey weeks 17 and 18, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/household-pulse-survey/data.html

Table 2 shows the number of SNAP participants based on recent data available for each state through August compared to February 2020, the last month before the economic effects of the pandemic hit. Available data suggest that 6-7 million more people have applied and been approved for benefits since February, a 17 percent increase nationally. This rise is unprecedented: at the onset of the Great Recession it took 17 months to add this number of people to SNAP. While SNAP participation in most states is still substantially lower than during the peak months after the Great Recession, the increase so far due to COVID-19 has been rapid.

Based on this state data the number of people nationally participating in SNAP appears to have leveled at about 43 million over May through August, though in some states over the summer it continued to grow and in others it fell. The differences in the trends in caseloads across states reflect multiple factors including:

  • Differences in job losses across the months of the pandemic and the degree to which businesses were operating;
  • How quickly states adapted their SNAP application processes to almost entirely remote communications (i.e., online and telephone) and the degree to which they made use of flexibilities offered to help them manage their workloads;[6]
  • How many people received unemployment insurance since the pandemic began in the state and how quickly states processed applications for unemployment insurance (UI) in the spring and early summer (which would have provided income to people who otherwise might have qualified for SNAP);

The slower growth over the summer months may reflect states taking higher income from UI benefits into account (for households that were approved for UI in late April or May), in addition to increased earnings from the economy partially reopening in some places. But UI income fell substantially as a result of the expiration of the temporary $600-per-week federal UI supplement at the end of July, which may have resulted in more SNAP applications in August and September. SNAP caseloads also shrink when the economy is strong, as they did in the years leading up to the COVID-19-related downturn.

TABLE 2
The Number of SNAP Participants Increased Substantially in Almost All States
Preliminary, subject to change. From state- or USDA-reported data, as of October 21, 2020, in thousands
State February 2020 April 2020 May 2020 June 2020 July 2020 August 2020 Percent change:
February to May (or April if May data not available) February to August (or July if August data not available)
Alabama 705 740 755 756 747 751 7% 7%
Alaska 81 86 88 88 88 89 9% 11%
Arizona 801 867 915 902 924 937 14% 17%
Arkansas 318 375 393       24%  
California 4,031 4,451 4,689 4,801 4,600 4,600 16% 14%
Colorado 431 507 524 539 552 534 21% 24%
Connecticut 362 382 388 387 388 381 7% 5%
Delaware * 116 126         9%  
District of Columbia * 109 118         9%  
Florida 2,684 3,212 3,661 3,816 3,845 3,871 36% 44%
Georgia 1,278 1,603 1,707       34%  
Guam * 41 52         28%  
Hawai’i 152 171 178 180 177   17% 16%
Idaho 149 153 151 153 147 145 2% -3%
Illinois 1,748 1,929 2,032       16%  
Indiana 617 680 715 775 844 726 16% 18%
Iowa 296 330 338 308 301 312 14% 5%
Kansas 190 202 209 213 208 207 10% 9%
Kentucky 482 593 624 653 602 599 29% 24%
Louisiana 770 812 843 853 857 866 10% 12%
Maine 165 176 180 179 176 174 9% 6%
Maryland 591 690 782 845 854 834 32% 41%
Massachusetts 757 882 911 912 852 872 20% 15%
Michigan 1,176 1,499 1,528 1,344 1,235 1,196 30% 2%
Minnesota 370 404 424 426 416 425 14% 15%
Mississippi 424 457 479 445 396 400 13% -6%
Missouri 657 752 766 773 778 772 17% 17%
Montana 106 108 110 109 110 108 4% 3%
Nebraska* 153 166         8%  
Nevada 412 497 512 465 466 469 24% 14%
New Hampshire* 72 77         7%  
New Jersey 661 683 718 725 735   9% 11%
New Mexico 445 481 492 493 492 493 11% 11%
New York 2,560 2,683 2,736 2,774 2,750   7% 7%
North Carolina 1,224 1,329 1,383 1,407 1,432 1,466 13% 20%
North Dakota* 48 51         8%  
Ohio 1,326 1,632 1,610 1,559 1,518   21% 14%
Oklahoma 576 598 608       6%  
Oregon 586 670 691 706 713 703 18% 20%
Pennsylvania 1,737 1,861 1,907 1,904 1,839 1,843 10% 6%
Rhode Island* 146           N/A  
South Carolina 568 593 625 639 616 617 10% 9%
South Dakota 78 79 79 78 78 78 2% 0%
Tennessee 844 905 891 876 844 855 6% 1%
Texas 3,284 3,708 3,899 3,932 3,911 3,941 19% 20%
Utah 170 177 166 160 158 163 -2% -4%
Vermont* 68 72         7%  
Virginia 680 747 767 774 785 782 13% 15%
Virgin Islands* 20 22         9%  
Washington 801 898 923       15%  
West Virginiaa 282 307 299 295 282 280 6% 0%
Wisconsin 598 687 697 689 684 724 17% 21%
Wyoming* 26 27         4%  
Total these states (or territories) 36,868
(53 states)
41,300
(52)
42,400
(43)
36,900b
(38)
36,400b
(37)
31,200b
(31)
17% 17%
% U.S. participants in these states 100% 99.9% 98% 85% 85% 73%    
Extrapolated to U.S. 36,868 41,400 43,200 43,800b 42,700b 43,000b    

* Preliminary Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. All others are state-reported figures. Because for February we have combined data from different sources, the state February figures do not add to USDA’s February national total. Historically, the data states reported have differed only slightly from the USDA data, but for April 2020, the most recent month for which USDA has posted preliminary data, there appear to be data reporting issues in about one-fifth of the states. Because of the data reporting issues USDA has not yet published date for May or subsequent months.

a Estimated individuals receiving SNAP based on reported households.

b These estimates for June through August 2020 should be viewed with caution as they rely on data for fewer than 40 states with 85 percent or less of total SNAP participants. The actual national figures may be higher or lower than represented here.

Sources: Compilation of state-reported number of SNAP participants. CBPP, “SNAP Online: A Review of State Government SNAP Websites,” April 23, 2020, https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/snap-online-a-review-of-state-government-snap-websites, includes links to the data on each state’s website for the states that post them. We also have obtained data for May from a handful of states that do not post their monthly data. The U.S. total for February 2020 and the February and April 2020 figures for states that do not share more recent data are from the Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, “SNAP Data Tables,” FY16 through FY20 National View Summary, https://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap.

Not Caught Up on Rent

Table 3 shows the estimated number of adults whose household was not caught up on rent by state. The Census Bureau changed the Pulse survey’s rent payment question in August, so these rent hardship figures results are not comparable to data from earlier weeks of the Pulse survey. In addition, a large share of Pulse survey respondents chose not to answer the housing questions in the latest survey. Non-response is higher among groups that are younger, have lower levels of education, and identify as Black or Latino — groups that are more likely to struggle to afford rent, due to longstanding inequities that often stem from structural racism in education, employment, and housing. Therefore, the Pulse data likely understate the number of people struggling to pay rent.

TABLE 3
1 in 6 Renters Nationwide Not Caught Up on Rent
Among adults in rental housing; data collected October 14–November 9
  Not Caught Up On Rent
  Estimated Number Percent
Alabama 164,000 18%
Alaska 25,000 17%
Arizona 273,000 16%
Arkansas 103,000 17%
California 1,476,000 12%
Colorado 127,000 9%
Connecticut 122,000 15%
Delaware 43,000 23%
District of Columbia 41,000 14%
Florida 1,011,000 20%
Georgia 501,000 21%
Hawai’i 49,000 13%
Idaho 31,000 10%
Illinois 571,000 21%
Indiana 205,000 16%
Iowa 62,000 11%
Kansas 75,000 13%
Kentucky 131,000 15%
Louisiana 224,000 24%
Maine 22,000 10%
Maryland 340,000 27%
Massachusetts 265,000 15%
Michigan 312,000 17%
Minnesota 143,000 14%
Mississippi 164,000 29%
Missouri 140,000 11%
Montana 29,000 14%
Nebraska 48,000 12%
Nevada 201,000 23%
New Hampshire 31,000 13%
New Jersey 352,000 17%
New Mexico 104,000 25%
New York 1,433,000 24%
North Carolina 316,000 14%
North Dakota 14,000 8%
Ohio 459,000 19%
Oklahoma 136,000 16%
Oregon 126,000 12%
Pennsylvania 484,000 19%
Rhode Island 44,000 17%
South Carolina 260,000 27%
South Dakota 22,000 13%
Tennessee 318,000 22%
Texas 1,086,000 17%
Utah 67,000 12%
Vermont 13,000 11%
Virginia 306,000 16%
Washington 231,000 12%
West Virginia 51,000 19%
Wisconsin 147,000 12%
Wyoming 14,000 13%

Note: Figures are averages of data collected October 14–26 and October 28–November 9. To adjust for non-response in the Pulse survey, the estimated number is calculated as the Pulse survey’s estimated share not caught up on rent multiplied by the total number of adult renters ages 18 and older from the American Community Survey.

Source: Calculated by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities from Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey published table “housing1b” for survey weeks 17 and 18, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/household-pulse-survey/data.html; and 2018 American Community Survey public use file.

Difficulty Covering Usual Household Expenses

The Pulse survey asks adult respondents if their household had difficulty paying for usual expenses such as food, rent or mortgage, car payments, medical expenses, or student loans in the last seven days. Table 4 shows the estimated number and percent of adults reporting that it was somewhat or very difficult for their household to pay for their usual expenses in the last seven days.

TABLE 4
1 in 3 Adults Nationwide Has Difficulty Covering Usual Household Expenses
Among adults; data collected October 14–November 9
  Difficulty Covering Usual Household Expenses
  Number Percent
United States 80,262,000 33%
Alabama 1,348,000 38%
Alaska 161,000 31%
Arizona 1,809,000 34%
Arkansas 775,000 36%
California 9,977,000 35%
Colorado 1,258,000 29%
Connecticut 812,000 31%
Delaware 234,000 32%
District of Columbia 150,000 28%
Florida 5,749,000 35%
Georgia 2,791,000 36%
Hawai’i 368,000 36%
Idaho 371,000 29%
Illinois 2,976,000 32%
Indiana 1,529,000 31%
Iowa 597,000 26%
Kansas 632,000 31%
Kentucky 1,049,000 32%
Louisiana 1,325,000 40%
Maine 301,000 29%
Maryland 1,364,000 31%
Massachusetts 1,466,000 29%
Michigan 2,330,000 32%
Minnesota 1,064,000 26%
Mississippi 853,000 41%
Missouri 1,313,000 30%
Montana 214,000 27%
Nebraska 366,000 27%
Nevada 923,000 40%
New Hampshire 269,000 26%
New Jersey 2,227,000 34%
New Mexico 629,000 40%
New York 5,387,000 38%
North Carolina 2,612,000 34%
North Dakota 126,000 23%
Ohio 2,632,000 31%
Oklahoma 1,049,000 37%
Oregon 965,000 30%
Pennsylvania 2,739,000 29%
Rhode Island 256,000 33%
South Carolina 1,364,000 36%
South Dakota 155,000 25%
Tennessee 1,762,000 35%
Texas 8,186,000 40%
Utah 562,000 25%
Vermont 134,000 28%
Virginia 1,875,000 30%
Washington 1,500,000 26%
West Virginia 420,000 32%
Wisconsin 1,174,000 27%
Wyoming 135,000 32%

Note: Figures are averages of data collected October 14–26 and October 28–November 9. In the latest data, collected October 28–November 9, 81 million adults nationwide (34 percent) reported difficulty paying for usual household expenses.

Source: Calculated by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities from Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey published table “spending1” for survey weeks 17 and 18, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/household-pulse-survey/data.html

High Unemployment

Table 5 provides state-by-state data on the unemployment rate over the August-October period and data on ongoing unemployment benefit claims.

Unemployment in most states has been highly elevated since April, as has the number of people claiming unemployment insurance benefits.

TABLE 5
Unemployment, Jobless Claims High Across the Country
States Unemployment rate (August-October average) a Current jobless benefits claims for week ending October 31b
Alabama 6.0 107,000
Alaska 6.8 38,000
Arizona 6.8 398,000
Arkansas 6.9 99,000
California 10.5 4,299,000
Colorado 6.5 230,000
Connecticut 7.3 186,000
Delaware 7.6 35,000
District of Columbia 8.6 73,000
Florida 7.0 206,000
Georgia 5.5 537,000
Hawai’i 14.1 172,000
Idaho 5.3 24,000
Illinois 9.4 676,000
Indiana 5.9 317,000
Iowa 4.9 73,000
Kansas 6.0 109,000
Kentucky 6.8 97,000
Louisiana 8.4 253,000
Maine 6.2 42,000
Maryland 7.5 330,000
Massachusetts 9.5 826,000
Michigan 7.6 888,000
Minnesota 6.0 227,000
Mississippi 7.5 82,000
Missouri 5.5 141,000
Montana 5.4 47,000
Nebraska 3.5 25,000
Nevada 12.6 289,000
New Hampshire 5.5 43,000
New Jersey 8.7 696,000
New Mexico 9.8 114,000
New York 10.6 2,369,000
North Carolina 6.7 333,000
North Dakota 4.7 18,000
Ohio 7.6 666,000
Oklahoma 5.7 95,000
Oregon 7.8 242,000
Pennsylvania 8.7 1,364,000
Puerto Rico 8.3 284,000
Rhode Island 10.1 77,000
South Carolina 5.3 179,000
South Dakota 4.2 6,000
Tennessee 7.5 190,000
Texas 7.3 1,084,000
Utah 4.4 28,000
Vermont 4.1 28,000
Virgin Islands 12.0* 2,000
Virginia 5.9 383,000
Washington 7.6 261,000
West Virginia 8.0 79,000
Wisconsin 5.8 185,000
Wyoming 6.1 11,000
U.S. 8.2 19,560,000

a All rates are seasonally adjusted except for the Virgin Islands.

b Compiled from data for regular state UI benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Including other smaller programs, 20,319,615 people were claiming benefits in that week.

* Rate is the average from July-September and is not seasonally adjusted.

Source: Local Area Unemployment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; Labor Force, Employment and Unemployment for Virgin Islands from Virgin Islands Electronic Workforce System; Unemployment Weekly Claims Report, Department of Labor, November 19, 2020.

[1] Federal surveys generally ask respondents whether they are “of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.” This report uses the term “Latino.”

[2] Brynne Keith-Jennings, “Food Need Very High Compared to Pre-Pandemic Levels, Making Relief Imperative,” CBPP, September 10, 2020, https://www.cbpp.org/blog/food-need-very-high-compared-to-pre-pandemic-levels-making-relief-imperative.

[3] The latest Pulse survey estimates that 9.2 million adults live in households not caught up on rent. To adjust for non-response in the survey, we apply the share not caught up on rent (18.3 percent) to the total number of adult renters (73 million) in the March 2020 Current Population Survey to calculate an adjusted estimate.

[4] The latest Pulse survey estimates that 8.8 million adults are in households not caught up on their mortgage. To adjust for non-response in the survey, we apply the share not caught up on their mortgage (10.1 percent) to the total number of adult homeowners (about 100 million) in the March 2020 Current Population Survey to calculate an adjusted estimate.

[5] Ajay Chaudry and Christopher Wimer, “Poverty is Not Just an Indicator: The Relationship Between Income, Poverty, and Child Well-Being,” Academic Pediatrics, Vol. 16 Issue 3 (April 1, 2016), https://www.academicpedsjnl.net/article/S1876-2859(15)00383-6/fulltext.

[6] The Families First Act, the first large-scale relief bill enacted in March, allowed the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide states substantial flexibility in program operations to help them manage their workloads to focus on processing new applications — flexibility that USDA had begun to phase out, but that the Continuing Resolution recently extended. “States Are Using Much-Needed Temporary Flexibility in SNAP to Respond to COVID-19 Challenges,” CBPP, updated August 6, 2020, https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/most-states-are-using-new-flexibility-in-snap-to-respond-to-covid-19; “States are Using Much-Needed Temporary Flexibility in SNAP to Respond to COVID-19 Challenges,” CBPP, Updated regularly.