Skip to main content

COVID-19 Pandemic Financial Crisis Disproportionately Borne by Minority Voter Households

Washington, DC – A new nationwide survey of likely voters conducted from May 11 – 17 for the Bipartisan Policy Center and funded by The Rockefeller Foundation finds Black and Hispanic families report a reduction of work hours and unemployment at higher rates than white households. Additionally, higher percentages of Black and Hispanic households said they have tapped into savings in response to the financial hardships caused by the pandemic crisis.

Black and Hispanic households also reported higher rates of taking actions, such as delaying bill payments or borrowing money, to lower household costs or increase cash on hand during the crisis.

The BPC/Rockefeller Foundation poll, released earlier this week, found bipartisan support for reforms that support American workers and their families. The survey reveals that Americans want jobs restored and are looking for pragmatic solutions tethered to employment, such as unemployment insurance reform, benefit portability, and family leave benefits.

“Black and Latino families are feeling the brunt of this recession,” BPC Chief Operating Officer Kelly Darnell said. “People of color struggled more economically, even when unemployment was at single-digit historic lows. The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered 40 million people jobless and Black and Latino communities have lost jobs at higher rates. All this is happening at a time when Black people are also dying of COVID-19 at much higher rates than white people. Now is the time to take a serious look at our economic system and implement reforms that support these communities, remove obstacles, and empower families to get back to work.”

“The polling reveals that, on average, Black and Hispanic households entered the crisis with fewer savings, have experienced great loss in income, and will begin the long recovery farther behind economically,” said BPC President Jason Grumet. “The good news is the poll also demonstrates bipartisan support for policy solutions that address some of these disparities and offer the promise of greater opportunity and shared prosperity for all Americans.”

Key findings include: 

  • 51% of Black households and 47% of Hispanic households said they used part of their Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) checks to purchase groceries, versus only 31% for white households.

  • Only 23% of white households say they have tapped savings, borrowed, or sought other emergency funds since the start of the crisis while 44% of Black and 42% of Hispanic households say the same.

  • 70% of Black households and 60% of Hispanic households that had emergency savings before the crisis say they have dipped into them during the past few months compared to only 34% of those white households that had savings.

  • Only 17% of white households say they have missed a payment (e.g., mortgage, credit card, utility, internet, rent) since the start of the crisis, compared to 37% of Black households and 42% of Hispanic households.

Additional findings include:

  • Both Black and Hispanic voter households (14%) are twice as likely as white households (7%) to have someone become unemployed since mid-March.

  • Roughly one in three (35%) Hispanic and (31%) Black voters in recent weeks have either had their hours cut, or someone else in their household has, compared to one in five (20%) white voters.

  • A majority of Hispanic (59%) and Black (54%) voter households are now suffering from life-stressing unemployment, underemployment or pay cuts, versus 36% of white voter households.

  • Only 48% of Black working-age respondents say they have an IRA or 401(k), compared to 65% of white and 62% of Hispanic working-age respondents.

  • A 59% majority of Black voters say after the COVID-19 crisis passes, it is time we recognize there are “big holes in our social protections to fix,” compared to 44% of white and 43% of Hispanic voters.

The BPC online poll surveyed 1,200 likely American voters during early May when many households and individuals were struggling with unemployment, lost or diminished wages, and depleted savings. At that time, some began receiving government assistance from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020.

The poll’s overall margin of error is +/- 2.83% at the 95% confidence level and higher for subgroups. The survey followed six focus group sessions conducted in Dallas and Pittsburgh, in early March, just before COVID-19 related restrictions began to be put in place in the United States.

Explore the full survey results