Gauging Concerns About Americans’ Personal Finances

We are gaining new information to help gauge the impact of the coronavirus on Americans’ personal financial situations. Two conclusions stand out from a reading of the data. Americans’ worries about the possibility of personal financial hardship are now about the same as their worries about getting the virus, a change from a month ago when virus concerns were higher. At the same time, however, Americans are not intensely worried about either their personal finances or getting the virus, and they remain more positive about their financial situations than they are about the national economy overall.

Concern About Getting the Virus and Personal Financial Hardship

Gallup has, for six weeks, been tracking Americans’ responses to two questions about the impact of the virus situation on their personal lives. One question asks Americans how worried they are about getting the virus, while a separate question asks how worried they are that they “will experience severe financial hardship as a result of the disruption caused by the coronavirus.”

Broad concern about these two eventualities — getting the virus and experiencing severe financial hardship — is roughly equal now, with a little more than half of Americans saying they are very or somewhat worried about each. There have been some fluctuations in these concerns over time. Worry about getting the virus was eight-percentage-points higher than worry about financial hardship in early April, but worries about the two concerns have been within a few points of each other over the past three weeks.

Importantlythere is not a lot of intense worry about either issue. Only 10% of Americans in the week ending May 17 said they were very worried about getting the virus, while 17% were very worried about severe financial hardship. (The majority of those who are concerned say they are “somewhat” worried). The trends show little change in the “very worried” percentages over time.

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