The Bureau of the Census began to track the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on American life and how it changed the lives of American citizens. The process began shortly after the pandemic started. Officials decided among the most critical issues they could watch were housing, education, hunger, work patterns, income, and availability of food. The survey process has continued and the most recent reports are out.
At its core, the Household Pulse Survey is a vast initiative to measure the effects of the crisis on Americans. The bureau has released weekly results in three phases. The first began on April 23, 2020, and ended July 21, 2020. The second and third phases followed, with the current phase, 3.1, which covers May 12 – May 24. This is “Week 30” of the process.
The Household Pulse Survey was created by an effort across several government agencies. These include the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Social Security Administration, and the USDA Economic Research Service.
One of the critical questions is whether people have faced a loss of income. “Expected Loss in Employment Income” is the specific title of the section. It is meant to determine the “Percentage of adults who expect someone in their household to have a loss in employment income in the next 4 weeks.”
The state where the percentage was highest in the last wave of the survey was Hawaii at 20.5%. This compares to the national figure of 13.5%. The state with the lowest figure was Utah at 7.5%. The Census does not draw any comparison to unemployment in these states. However, in April, Utah was one of the four states with the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 2.8%. Hawaii had the highest among all states at 8.5%. Hawaii’s employment trouble comes largely from the lack of tourism during the pandemic.
The Census collects that same data on metro areas. The metro with the highest percentage of people who expect to lose income is Houston at 21.1%. The lowest is Boston at 11.3%.