Half of all Americans financially impacted by coronavirus: poll

An exterior view of the building of US Department of the Treasury is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Multiple Native American tribes have sued the federal government over distribution of COVID-19 relief. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via G

Fifty percent of Americans say they or someone in their household’s lost their job or lost hours due to the coronavirus pandemic cratering the economy.

That’s according to a new national Marist Poll for NPR and the PBS NewsHour, which was released Wednesday. And that number has soared from just 18 percent a month ago.

The poll's release comes as the government reports that the U.S. economy plunged at an annual rate of 4.8 percent for the first three months of this year -- the largest contraction since the Great Recession over a decade ago.

The survey indicates that minorities and those without college degrees are suffering more than whites and college-educated people. According to the poll, 60 percent of non-whites said they or someone in their household has lost a job or hours at work – compared with just 43 percent of whites. Fifty-five percent of those without a college education say they’ve been financially impacted. That drops to 45 percent for those with a college degree.

"These numbers show the struggle, the impact the crisis has had on Americans,” Marist Poll director Barbara Carvalho said. "No one has really gone untouched. However, we certainly see from the data as well that a lack of a strong safety net, especially for many middle-class or working-class Americans, it has some really, really big holes in it.

Eighty percent or more of people questioned in the poll say they don’t want schools, restaurants or large sporting events to reopen and start taking place again until there’s expanded testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Nearly two-thirds also say they don't want Americans to physically go back to work without that widespread testing. But there’s a partisan divide – with an overwhelming majority of Democrats and two-thirds of independents saying it would be a bad idea to physically return to work without increased testing, but a slight majority of Republicans saying it’s a good idea.

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There’s a wide partisan split over the job President Trump’s doing handling the federal response to the outbreak. Overall, 44 percent approve and 55 percent disapprove of how he’s handled the crisis. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats disapprove, while 89 percent of Republicans approve. Independents disapprove by a 58-40 percent margin.

There’s also gender and educational divides, with a majority of women and those with college degrees disapproving, while a slight majority of men and non-college educated people approving.

When it comes to the president’s handling of the economy, 50 percent of those questioned said they approve and 48 percent disapprove.

The poll also showed that majorities said they prefer former Vice President Joe Biden – the presumptive Democratic nominee – over the president when it comes to handling both coronavirus (55 percent to 40 percent) and the economy (51 percent to 44 percent).

The NPR/PBS NewsHour poll was conducted by Marist College, with 1,008 adults nationwide questioned by live telephone operators from April 21-26. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.