Last week, I opened a survey on the economic impacts of COVID-19 in Brevard County, Florida. The survey was disseminated organically across social networks throughout Brevard. Since then, 700 households, who work across 20 different industries and represent over 100 unique occupations, have taken the survey.
My goal is to provide policymakers and community leaders with a source of actionable intelligence that helps support COVID-19 relief efforts.
This article examines the first week of survey results. I’ll be breaking down my analysis into several parts. For the first part here, I’m going to focus on the pandemic’s effects on the local market economy in the form of lost income from work activities.
What was the situation prior to COVID-19?
90% of households surveyed reported working prior to the pandemic.
Work was a significant investment of time for these households from the outset, with 90% working full-time, and 60% reporting working over 40 hours per week. The latter stat blew me away: Prior to COVID-19, 6 out of 10 households reported their “primary earner” working over 40 hours per week.
For three-quarters of working households surveyed, earnings from work activities represented their sole source of ordinary income. So household stability and market demand appear highly dependent on many hours of work.
How has the pandemic affected work?
65% of households surveyed reported a loss of earnings due to COVID-19.
Significant loss was felt across all income classes, with lower income households experiencing losses most often:
So, 8 out of 10 working lower income households experienced a loss of earnings due to COVID-19; 6 out of 10 middle income, and 4 out 10 upper income.
Most of the loss was experienced in March, and deepened in April, before leveling off but not yet showing recovery:
The median loss over the four months was $6,000 per household. Across this sample, this amounts to $2.5 million dollars in total market income lost during the period.
Lower income households experienced the greatest loss, proportionally. Through June, lower income households lost 50% of their work earnings; middle income earners lost 35%, and upper income earners lost 25%.
In summary, all income classes have experienced significant economic impacts due to COVID-19, with lower income households experiencing the greatest impact most often.
What was the reason for the losses?
The next part of the survey gets into sampling for an understanding of why losses occurred, and how confident households are that business will return to normal.
As the graph below shows, most households experienced a reduction in work hours or pay due to COVID-19—they kept their jobs, but demand for their work decreased:
A significant number (29%) of households were laid off. When analyzing by income class, lower income households were laid off most often:
How confident are people that business will return to normal?
Of those laid off, a quarter are highly confident they will get their old job back. But half are not confident at all, and believe their job has been lost permanently. The remaining quarter are moderately confident, but uncertain.
Of the business owners sampled whose businesses closed temporarily, nearly half are highly confident their businesses will reopen eventually. Only 10% believe their closing will be permanent.
However, workers are not optimistic about business returning to normal in the next four weeks, with 80% either not confident at all, or only slightly confident:
What industries and jobs were surveyed?
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, survey respondents represented over 20 different industries and 100 unique occupations. The industry represented most was Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, and the most common occupation was Engineer; this was followed by Educational Services and Healthcare Services, with Educator and Registered Nurse being the most common occupations, respectively.
Respondents reported more instances of lost earnings in the above fields, however the greatest proportion of workers experiencing loss was concentrated in the Personal Care, Accommodation, Entertainment, Food and Drinking, and Repair Services industries. This is shown in the chart below:
Workers in many of those same industries also saw the greatest decreases in earnings:
What’s next in Part 2
I hope you found this first look at the Week 1 results of the Brevard COVID-19 Household Stability Survey insightful. In this part, I examined the pandemic’s effects on the local market economy in the form of lost income from work activities. In the next part, I’ll analyze the impact this loss is having on individual household behavior. Please subscribe to receive it when it’s ready.