The combined health and economic shocks of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic have led to an unprecedented mental health crisis. A recent poll finds that two-thirds of Americans fear that they or their loved ones will be exposed to the virus. More than 12 million Americans are unemployed and since February, over 5 million more have given up looking for work. Almost one-third of adult Americans that they are having trouble paying for usual household expenses. This economic reality may worsen when emergency unemployment benefits expire at the end of the year.

As a result of these pressures, a recent online survey of almost 100,000 households by the U.S. Census Bureau found that more than one-third of American adults report symptoms of depressive and/or anxiety disorder — triple the rate reported in 2019. In June, another well-regarded survey found that more than 1 in 10 U.S. adults had considered suicide in the past 30 days, more than double what was reported in 2019. Tragically, confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States continue to grow, with no clear end to the pandemic in sight. The nation’s failure to contain the coronavirus and stabilize the economy likely will have a deep and lasting impact on Americans’ mental health.

The combined health and economic shocks of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic have led to an unprecedented mental health crisis. A recent poll finds that two-thirds of Americans fear that they or their loved ones will be exposed to the virus. More than 12 million Americans are unemployed and since February, over 5 million more have given up looking for work. Almost one-third of adult Americans that they are having trouble paying for usual household expenses. This economic reality may worsen when emergency unemployment benefits expire at the end of the year.

As a result of these pressures, a recent online survey of almost 100,000 households by the U.S. Census Bureau found that more than one-third of American adults report symptoms of depressive and/or anxiety disorder — triple the rate reported in 2019. In June, another well-regarded survey found that more than 1 in 10 U.S. adults had considered suicide in the past 30 days, more than double what was reported in 2019. Tragically, confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States continue to grow, with no clear end to the pandemic in sight. The nation’s failure to contain the coronavirus and stabilize the economy likely will have a deep and lasting impact on Americans’ mental health.

In recent decades, the Hispanic community has experienced a great deal of economic progress while facing daunting challenges. However, Hispanics have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which has taken approximately 40,000 Hispanic lives to date and had a disproportionate economic impact on the Hispanic community. The crisis has revealed stark inequalities that must be addressed as part of federal efforts to contain the virus and spur a robust economic recovery.

The more than 60 million Hispanics living in the United States — making up just over 18% of the population — have made significant contributions and progress in the economy. Before the pandemic, an increasing number of Hispanics were starting businesses, taking on professional leadership roles and continuing to make meaningful contributions across the U.S. economy. Hispanics achieved notable gains in educational attainment: the percent of Hispanics with a bachelor’s degree or higher nearly doubled in the last two decades. According to a 2018 study by Brookings, Hispanics were 22% of the American middle class.

However, Hispanics also face inequities and challenges. Despite having a higher level of employment, they were more than two times as likely to live in poverty as Whites, even before the pandemic. In 2018, the median total income of Hispanic households was nearly $20,000 less than that of White households, and the median net worth of Hispanic households was only one-eighth that of White households. More Hispanic children were dependent on food nutrition programs to alleviate hunger.

The coronavirus pandemic has struck a severe blow to the already inadequate child care system in the United States. As of August, approximately 214,000 child care workers—one fifth of the pre-pandemic level—are still out of a job. More than four fifths of child care providers report that if they don’t receive additional public assistance they expect to close permanently. As result, 13 percent of parents say that they were forced to reduce hours or quit their jobs, on average losing a full day of work a week. The lack of child care has become one of the key factors holding back the U.S recovery.

Even before COVID-19, more than four out of five parents of young children reported that finding quality, affordable child care in their area was a serious problem. This is because child care is neither widely accessible nor affordable. Millions of American families live in “child care deserts,” in which the demand for child care far exceeds the supply. The average family that uses child care spends about one fourth of their income to pay for it. In some states, a single-earner family earning median income would need to spend more than half of their earnings to care for a single infant. In 30 states and Washington, D.C., the average cost of center-based infant care costs more than average in-state college tuition.

Child care is expensive in the United States because, unlike in other developed countries, it is not seen as a public good, despite extensive research showing that it has substantial public benefits. The U.S. federal government spends less than half as much on child care as a share of its gross domestic product as the average of other nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In some of those countries, free child care is widely accessible; in others, fees are means-tested and on average amount to only about 15 percent of average earnings.

Retirement Insecurity

Aug 14 2020

At the worst of the Great Depression, one-quarter of the U.S. workforce was unemployed. Millions of Americans were homeless and breadlines were common in many cities. The prospects for older Americans was particularly grim—half lived in poverty.

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, stating that “we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age. This law, too, represents a corner stone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete...”

Social Security not only has prevented tens of millions of men and women from falling into poverty, it has become the bedrock of retirement security for all Americans. However, the “three-legged stool” of retirement—Social Security, pensions and private savings—has been slowly coming apart. Since the late 1980s, the percentage who receive traditional pensions has been cut by more than half. Today, less than half of low wage earners have defined contribution accounts like a 401(k) or IRA. 35%of near retirees—those ages 55-64—have neither a defined benefit pension nor a defined contribution plan.