Many wealthy Americans are poised to emerge from the pandemic in better shape than they entered it, widening the gulf between the rich and the poor, a new study suggests.
About 40% of upper-income adults in the U.S. said their financial situation improved in the past year, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Friday. Almost one-third of their lower-income counterparts said their finances had worsened over the same period. Those in the wealthier group said they bolstered their savings during the outbreak since they couldn’t spend money on things they normally would.
More than 8 out of 10 respondents in the wealthier group described their finances as excellent or good, the study shows.
Almost three-quarters of those in the lower-income category said their finances were in only fair or poor shape, with about one-third saying they worry about being able to buy enough food to feed their families.
Majorities of Black and Hispanic adults also described their finances as only fair or poor.
The COVID-19 virus has disproportionately affected people of color, with employment losses concentrated in lower-paying, lower-skilled jobs that were non-essential and couldn’t be done from home, such as in some food services jobs and hospitality.
Women have also been more likely to suffer job loss and financial hardship during the pandemic; women, adults aged 18-29 and lower-income workers were more likely than other groups to have taken unpaid time off in the last year.
Across the middle, lower-income and upper-income groups, about half the respondents said their financial situation was about the same as the year before. About a quarter of adults 50 or older said they either have or are considering delaying retirement because of the pandemic.
Pew conducted the survey Jan. 19-24 among 10,334 adults. The margin of error is 1.6 percentage points.
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