Americans Sour on Economic Outlook in Lockdown, Embrace Stimulus

(Bloomberg) -- Americans’ views on the economy have soured dramatically since the beginning of the year as coronavirus-caused shutdowns have tanked their ability to pay bills, a pair of reports from the Pew Research Center found Tuesday.

As the pandemic enters its second month, the number of Americans who say economic conditions are good or excellent has been cut in half, from 57% at the start of the year to just 23%, according to a survey by Pew.

The survey also found high rates of support for federal stimulus, with 88% saying the $2 trillion aid package passed in March was the right thing to do, and more than three-fourths saying more economic assistance will be necessary.

Those numbers are much higher than support for the stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama during the recession of 2009.

The recent survey of 4,917 adults across the country was conducted April 7-12. It has a margin of error of 2.1 percentage points.

A separate Pew report out Tuesday showed 43% of U.S. adults now say that they or someone in their household has lost their job or had their pay cut due to the pandemic. For lower-income adults it’s even higher, at 52%, underscoring the disproportionate economic impacts of Covid-19.

While 24% adults said they can’t pay all their bills in a typical month, the coronavirus has only exacerbated the problem. Thirty-two percent of adults say they won’t be able to pay their bills this month, according to the report. That figure jumps to 44% for Hispanic adults.

More than half of adults who expect to receive a government stimulus payment plan to use a majority of the money to pay bills or for something essential for them or their family.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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