15% of Americans worse off a year into pandemic, poll suggests

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FILE - In this May 7, 2020, file photo, a person looks inside the closed doors of the Pasadena Community Job Center in Pasadena, Calif., during the coronavirus outbreak. While most Americans have weathered the pandemic financially, about 38 million say they are worse off now than before the outbreak began in the U.S. According to a new poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research 55% of Americans say their financial circumstances are about the same now as a year ago, and 30% say their finances have improved. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

While most Americans have weathered the pandemic financially, about 38 million say they are worse off now than before the outbreak began in the U.S.

Overall, 55% of Americans say their financial circumstances are about the same now as a year ago, and 30% say their finances have improved, according to a new poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But 15% say they are worse off.

The problem is more pronounced at lower-income levels: 29% of Americans living below the federal poverty line say their personal finances worsened in the past year. Roughly that many also find themselves in a deepening financial hole, saying they struggled to pay bills in the past three months.

Britney Frick, 27, is among those whose finances have taken a hit. She worked as a substitute teacher before the pandemic but her role was eliminated. Initially, she found a telecommunications job that allowed her to work from home, but the hours began to dwindle then dried up altogether.

Frick ended up unemployed for six months but was able to get by using her savings, reduced rent and help from her parents.

“I am slowly getting back on my feet but am nowhere near where I was before COVID," she said.

Frick got a job at a daycare in March and the steady work is helping her rebuild her financial picture.

“I am still living paycheck to paycheck but at least the paycheck is covering the bills," she said. “But I am happy to be back at work honestly and happy that things are kind of returning to normal."