Nearly 20% of U.S. Households Have Lost All of Their Savings

Posted by Sheena Allen in EconomyOctober 24, 2021(Last Updated January 10, 2023)3 min read
Key Takeaways
  • A poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health discovered that 38% of U.S. households face serious financial issues.
  • According to the poll, 9% of households earning less than $50,000 and  18% of households earning more than $50,000 a year are facing financial hardship.
  • It is reported that 19% of U.S. households lost all of their savings during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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A poll was released on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The poll, Household Experiences in America During the Delta Variant Outbreak, questioned 3,616 adults about health and financial problems affecting members of their household and outlined alarming statistics about American families reporting financial hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Summary of the Poll Findings


The poll also revealed that 67% of U.S. households received monetary government assistance throughout the pandemic. However, 38% of American households are still facing serious financial hardships. 


The report separated the participants into two groups. One group earned $50,000 per year or more, and the second group earned below $50,000 per year. Poll numbers showed 9% of households with annual incomes below $50,000 and 18% of households with annual incomes above $50,000 face financial problems. Although certain households are earning more money, they are facing financial difficulties at twice the rate.


The poll highlighted another notable problem: nearly 20% of American households lost all their savings during the pandemic. According to the poll findings, these households do not have any savings left and have spent the savings they had during the pandemic. 


How Financial Hardship Impacts Families


Financial hardships can affect families in more ways than one. If a family suffers financially, their housing, health care, and children’s education could potentially suffer too. Without an adequate amount in savings or an emergency fund, a family has limited financial resources to fall back on during hardship. 



Housing has been one of the more significant factors that have caused numerous families to suffer during the pandemic. A general rule of thumb is that housing costs should be around 30% of a person’s monthly gross income. Therefore, those who spend more than 30% of their monthly income on housing are considered to be burdened with this expense. 


Due to the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced under the leadership of President Joe Biden that renters would be covered by the eviction moratorium to prevent landlords from evicting them. However, the United States Supreme Court denied the extension of the eviction ban, which caused many renters to be kicked out of their homes. The poll from the study run by NPR also found that ​​27% of renters nationally documented that they had issues paying their rent since the expiration of the eviction ban.


Recommended Read: The Eviction Moratorium Extension Was Denied. So What Does That Mean for Renters?


Recovering From a Financial Hardship


The coronavirus pandemic has affected families globally, leaving many with wage cuts or even without jobs. Those respondents who said they lost their savings are now in a difficult financial position, as they have no financial cushion to fall back on. 



CapWay Tip: There are tools and resources available on CapWay’s platform to help point people in the right direction. If you are looking for information that is specific to your financial circumstance, you can request for us to create the content and provide you with the resources to better help you and your family. 


Although recovering from an extreme financial crisis can be difficult, there are ways to help the average individual and families get back on their feet financially. A few ways to help jumpstart the process are: 


  1. Find tools and resources that are specific to your situation. By searching online for credible resources, you may be able to find various organizations that are willing to help with a specific need. Also, by searching within your community, you may find local organizations that are giving away free or discounted items such as clothing, food, and housing. 
  2. Ask your employer for help. If you are suffering from a financial loss or a depletion of savings, your employer may be the perfect person to ask for help. For example, if you are a parent who cannot afford daycare expenses, there may be a program or a resource that your employer can provide to you to assist in finding proper childcare. 



What are your thoughts on the 20% of Americans who have lost their savings due to the pandemic? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below. 

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