Bleak Holiday Ahead for Millions of Americans Seeing Income Drop

About 76 million Americans expect someone in their household to suffer a drop in income over the next few weeks, in a holiday season marked by the pending expiration of government benefits as well as new pandemic-related restrictions, according to the latest Census Bureau survey.

The figure, from the bureau’s regular Household Pulse study completed on Nov. 23, is up by almost 11 million compared with the late-August edition.

Bleak Holiday Ahead for Millions of Americans Seeing Income Drop

Part of the increase likely stems from the looming end of federal income support for people hit by the coronavirus slump. While some measures to help the unemployed have already wound down, two more programs -- which extended the duration of jobless benefits, and expanded them to include gig workers and freelancers -- are both due to lapse on Dec. 26. Congress has been deadlocked for months over a new stimulus package that could prolong or replace them.

Another reason is that private business in many regions is set to take a hit from measures aimed at halting a recent surge in virus cases. California, for example, issued a limited stay-at-home order on Nov. 19 to reduce transmission of the disease. Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state will consider more far-reaching steps if needed.

That’s reflected in the sharp regional variations on display in the Census Bureau data. In Los Angeles, almost 1 million more households expect a near-term drop in their incomes than they did in August, but in Miami the number has shrunk by about 300,000.

Bleak Holiday Ahead for Millions of Americans Seeing Income Drop

Covid-19, which has killed more than 270,000 Americans so far, is on track to claim another 200,000 lives by March 1, according to forecasts from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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