SPI Press Release Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19

New longitudinal Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 Survey calls for sustained public benefit support

Survey results from the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis

Press Release: Sept. 16, 2021

The Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis (SPI) released new findings on the impact of COVID-19 on housing hardship, the importance of employment and associated benefits, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, family hardships, and efficiency of public benefits designed to support households in need, such as SNAP, TANF, and unemployment insurance benefits.

The survey from SPI points to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on renters, racial/ethnic minority groups, parents, and the unemployed. Though public benefits and policies served as lifelines for Americans during the pandemic, they have also revealed some limitations. Findings include:

  • A third of households reported paying more than 30% of their income on housing (cost burdened); 57% of renters who fell behind on rent were cost burdened. Renters were at higher risk for financial hardship than homeowners.
  • Black and Hispanic households were 10% more likely to experience housing cost-burden than white or Asian households and were also more likely to fall behind on rent.
  • 22% of parents lost their job or income due to a disruption of child care.
  • Twice as many parents used their economic impact payment for housing than non-parents.
  • Furloughed employees were able to return to work full time at higher rates than employees who were laid off.
  • Financial hardship was three times higher among households in which someone lost a job.
  • Usage of public benefits (SNAP, TANF and unemployment insurance) increased during the pandemic, yet many households experienced long wait times, high rates of hardship and relied on high-cost alternative financial services.

Download the full briefs:

The Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 Survey in the United States, administered by SPI, had roughly 5,000 respondents per wave across five waves. Each wave was collected at 3-month intervals between late April 2020 and May 2021. The study asked respondents over 200 questions to understand the social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Details of a similar survey in Israel are available here.

Email socialpolicyinstitute@wustl.edu for inquiries about accessing this dataset.