With layoffs, job losses and stock market fluctuations, nearly everyone is experiencing some sort of economic repercussion from the pandemic. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor now shows that there are more jobless claims than during the Great Recession or any natural disaster.
The government is stepping in to help with the CARES Act stimulus bill that puts money into the hands of consumers, increases unemployment benefits and provides loans to small businesses. Utility and mortgage companies are offering forbearance and payment deferrals for those who cannot meet their monthly obligations. Student loan payments have been suspended with no additional interest until September.
Even with all of this help, employees are struggling. That’s why an employee financial wellness plan is needed now more than ever.
Pandemic impact on personal finances
The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) survey illustrates the devastating impact of the pandemic on personal finances. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed state that the pandemic is causing them financial issues. What’s causing the most stress?
- Not having enough in emergency savings (41 percent)
- Inability to pay utilities (28 percent)
- Inability to pay mortgage or rent (28 percent)
- Stock market fluctuations (25 percent)
- Paying credit cards (23 percent)
- Retirement savings (23 percent)
- Paying for medical bills (18 percent)
Such financial issues impact everyone: Those with household incomes of less than $50,000 per year and those with household incomes over $100,000 per year are equally concerned (79 percent) about their financial situation. The survey also shows that 41 percent of Americans worry that their financial situation will not be any better a year from now.
NEFE found both good and bad news when talking to individuals about how they are managing their personal finances during the crisis. On the good news side, they found Americans were cutting expenses (42 percent) and increasing their emergency and retirement savings (22 percent).
However, almost a quarter of Americans are putting off buying a home or making other large financial decisions, and nearly two out of five have already used money from their emergency savings. They also are:
- Using credit cards more often – 10 percent
- Deferring payments until a later time – 12 percent
- Borrowing against retirement – 6 percent