Financial Profiles of Workers Most Vulnerable to Coronavirus-Related Earnings Loss in the Spring of 2020
26 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2020 Last revised: 30 Oct 2020
Date Written: October 27, 2020
In spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns had huge effects on unemployment. Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, we describe the financial profiles of US families whose workers were most vulnerable to coronavirus-related earnings losses in the spring of 2020, based on whether a particular worker was deemed “essential” and whether a worker’s job could be conducted remotely. We use descriptive analytic techniques to examine how families’ baseline financial situations would allow them to weather COVID-shutdown-related earnings losses. We find that families with non-teleworkable workers who were most vulnerable to layoff also had both demographic and financial profiles that are associated with greater vulnerability to income shocks: non-teleworkable families were more likely to be people of color and single wage-earners, and also to have less savings. The median non-teleworkable family, whether in non-essential or essential occupations, held only three weeks of income in savings, underscoring the importance of policy measures to blunt the financial effect of the COVID crisis.
Keywords: Savings, COVID-19, coronavirus, essential workers, telework
JEL Classification: D14, E24, G51
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation