COVID benefits have saved many Americans money and paid off debt — but that band-aid is stealing for some


During the pandemic, many Americans have seen their financial situation improve. Thanks to stimulus checks, improved unemployment benefits, forbearance on student loans and mortgages combined with business closures during the lockdown phase, many Americans have been able to accumulate savings and pay off debts from credit card.

But now there are warning signs that the tides are starting to turn.

Overall, 27% of American adults finished the year worse financially, compared to 25% who finished better. Additionally, 37% of adults find it more difficult to manage their finances, according to a survey of 2,200 American adults published Tuesday by the Morning Consult.

Women and adults with annual incomes below $50,000 said they ended 2021 worse off financially than they started it.

Some 31% of women said they ended the year worse off, while 20% said they ended the year better off financially. A greater proportion of men (30%) said they ended the year better off, while 24% said they ended the year worse off.

Some 33% of adults with an annual income of less than $50,000 said they ended up worse off, compared to about 19% who said they ended up better off. Meanwhile, 42% of adults who made at least $100,000 last year said they ended up better and only 14% said they were worse off.

Women and adults with an annual income of less than $50,000 also reported having the most difficulty managing their finances across all demographic groups.

Women and adults with an annual income of less than $50,000 also reported having the most difficulty managing their finances of all demographic groups analyzed by Morning Consult researchers.

Morning Consult financial services analyst Charlotte Principato said “the headwinds of the pandemic and inflation” are why many Americans are struggling to manage their finances and feel worse off financially.

Indeed, the nearly 40-year high level of inflation that Americans are facing could also harm their mental well-being.

A separate Gallup survey of nearly 4,000 American adults found that just over 55% of respondents considered themselves “thriving” in November and December. That’s down nearly 4 percentage points from the 14-year high of around 59% measured in June.

In November and December, annual inflation rose to 6.8% and 7%, respectively.

It is not yet known how much the omicron variant, which is said to be more contagious than the delta variant, has cost Americans financially. But already some businesses — including fitness centers, hotels and tour bus companies — are lobbying lawmakers for more relief funds.

Corporate lobbyists say the latest surge has caused them to “reduce or halt operations as employees are sick and customers are canceling orders and reservations,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

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