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Poll Finds Majority of Americans Worried They Won't Be Able to Pay Bills During Outbreak

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Mar 20, 2020
A poll of 2,900 Americans conducted by Fortune has found that a wide majority, 63 percent, are worried that measures taken during the coronavirus epidemic will mean they won't be able to pay their bills. Broken down by gender, 51 percent of men said they were very concerned and 71 percent of women. It also found that 89 percent are worried that the outbreak will have a significant effect on the U.S. economy, and 82 percent believe a recession over the next year is very likely.

This economic anxiety comes at a time when initial applications for unemployment assistance spiked by 33 percent last week; Goldman Sachs estimated that this number is likely far bigger this week, predicting that the next set of data from the government will show 2.25 million Americans have filed. Even assuming job losses have slowed down, the firm believes that the most conservative estimate is still record-breakingly high, 1 mililon. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin estimated earlier that the country could eventually face a 20 percent unemployment rate if action is not taken soon.

With this in mind, the government has already passed a relief measure that expands food programs and mandates that certain businesses implement paid leave. Meanwhile, policymakers are working out the finer details of a stimulus bill meant to address the pandemic's economic impact. Right now, the White House is pushing for sending most Americans a check of $1,000 per adult plus $500 per child, meaning that a family of four would receive $3,000, according to CNBC. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said, however, that extending unemployment benefits even further would have a more sustainable effect than a one-time cash injection. On this, he has common cause with a strange bedfellow, Republican Lindsay Graham (R -S.C.), who believes direct cash payments won't have much effect and instead says, like Schumer, that unemployment benefits should be shored up instead, according to the New York Post.