Story at a glance

  • The survey found 1 in 3 Americans say they or a family member have been laid off as a consequence of the outbreak.
  • Nearly half report reduction in hours or pay for them or someone in their family.
  • The poll comes as nearly 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits.

The majority of Americans say they believe the coronavirus pandemic is likely to cause an economic recession in the United States as bad or worse than the 2008 financial collapse, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll

The poll found 9 in 10 Americans say they think the outbreak is likely to trigger an economic recession, while more than 6 in 10 say the downturn will be as bad as or worse than the Great Recession. 

In terms of how the outbreak has affected Americans personally, the survey found 1 in 3 Americans say they or an immediate family member have lost their job, while nearly half report a cut in hours or pay for someone in their family. 

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Among those who have not been laid off or had their hours cut, at least half are concerned it will happen to them. 

The survey released Thursday comes as the Labor Department reported that nearly 3.3 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the past week, the highest number since the department began keeping records more than 50 years ago, and well above the 1.5 million claims economists had expected.


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Layoffs have hit the hospitality and food service industries hard due to social-distancing orders that have forced restaurants and bars to close for business. Other struggling industries include arts, entertainment, transportation, warehousing and manufacturing industries. 

The Senate unanimously passed an approximately $2.2 trillion stimulus package late Wednesday night in an effort to jump-start the economy. The bill provides aid for workers, small business and industries impacted in recent weeks by the virus. 

The Washington Post-ABC News poll meanwhile found that more than 8 in 10 Americans across party lines support cash payments from the federal government to citizens of more than $1,000 to those with annual incomes of less than $100,000. At least 9 in 10 also support providing billions in financial assistance to small businesses. 

The poll was conducted from March 22-25 among a random national sample of more than 1,000 adults surveyed by telephone.


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Published on Mar 26, 2020