Financial Profiles of Workers Most Vulnerable to Coronavirus-Related Earnings Loss in the Spring of 2020

27 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2020 Last revised: 15 Jan 2023

See all articles by Brooke Helppie-McFall

Brooke Helppie-McFall

University of Michigan, Survey Research Center

Joanne W. Hsu

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: November, 2020

Abstract

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.

JEL Classification: D14, E24, G51

Suggested Citation

McFall, Brooke Helppie and Hsu, Joanne W., Financial Profiles of Workers Most Vulnerable to Coronavirus-Related Earnings Loss in the Spring of 2020 (November, 2020). FEDS Working Paper No. 2020-93, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3728732 or http://dx.doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2020.093

Brooke Helppie McFall (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Survey Research Center ( email )

426 Thompson St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
United States

Joanne W. Hsu

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR) ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248
United States

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