Coronavirus pandemic hit poorest Americans the hardest, Fed says

The job losses appeared to be concentrated among low-income workers

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The coronavirus pandemic has battered Americans' finances, with nearly one-fifth of workers saying their job has been affected by the crisis, the Federal Reserve said in a new report released Thursday.

From the beginning of March through early April, 19 percent of adults reported losing a job, being furloughed or having their hours reduced, according to the Federal Reserve's Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking.

The report measures the economic well-being of households throughout the nation; though it was initially conducted in October, the U.S. central bank did a smaller supplemental survey in April to gauge the virus outbreak's impact on Americans' finances.

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The study found that more than one-third expect to struggle to pay their bills in April. Among those who'd lost a job or had hours reduced, 35 percent did not expect to be able to pay all of their bills. A substantial number of adults said they were financially vulnerable and either could not pay their current month's bills in full, or would have struggled to do so if hit with an unexpected $400 bill.

Still, individuals who had been laid off remained optimistic: About 91 percent anticipated they would return to work for the same employer or indicated that they had already returned to the job.

The job losses appeared to be concentrated among low-income workers: About 39 percent of individuals working in February with a household income below $40,000 reported losing their job in March.

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Fewer adults reported that they were doing okay financially in April, compared to six months earlier. In April, only 43 percent said they were "doing okay," down from 75 percent of adults who said they were "doing okay" in October. About 29 percent of Americans reported "living comfortably," in April, down from 36 percent in the fall of 2019.

The report comes on the heels of another bleak Labor Department report, which revealed that in the two months since pandemic gripped the nation and forced an unprecedented shutdown of businesses, more than 36 million Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits.

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