Poll: Nearly 1 in 5 households have lost work because of pandemic

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A Brooklyn restaurant tells would-be customers it is closed on Sunday, after a decree that all bars and restaurants in New York City shut down.
A Brooklyn restaurant tells would-be customers it is closed on Sunday, after a decree that all bars and restaurants in New York City shut down.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has already started to hit American pocketbooks, with nearly 1 in 5 households experiencing a layoff or a reduction in work hours, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

As people stay home, avoid crowds and cancel plans to avoid spreading the disease, it's rapidly causing a contraction in economic activity that is hurting a wide range of businesses.

Restaurants, bars, hotels and airlines are among the hardest-hit industries, but the ripple effects of the drop in demand are expected to spread across virtually the entire economy.

As of March 13-14, when the new poll was conducted, layoffs and reduced hours had already hit 18 percent of U.S. households.

Lower-income workers were the most affected: A quarter of households making less than $50,000 had experienced cut hours or a job loss.

And even those who haven't lost work because of the coronavirus are often working differently because of the pandemic.

A third of American households have had at least one person change their work routine because of the coronavirus. College graduates (43 percent) were more likely to experience this shift than nongraduates (25 percent).

Many businesses have allowed or instructed people to work from home to reduce their exposure to the virus. But many jobs, particularly blue-collar and service or retail jobs, cannot be done remotely.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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