By: Mallory Bateman and Emily Harris
Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.
In June, we provided a brief overview of the Household and Small Business Pulse surveys administered by the Census Bureau. These surveys aim to provide insights into the impact of COVID-19 on the population and small businesses across the country. The resulting data from both surveys provides a nearly contemporaneous and recurring set of data to illustrate those impacts. Phase 1 of the Household Pulse Survey ended on July 21, 2020, with the last set of data released in early August.
The Gardner Institute’s new Household Pulse Survey Data Tool allows users to easily access Utah data by selected demographic characteristics within the state. We included the weekly survey results on employment, housing, access to technology for education, insurance coverage, mental health, and food sufficiency. We examined responses to these questions by age groups, household income, and race. Following guidance from the Census Bureau, we combined weekly data into two-week data, and grouped small subpopulations to reduce some variability of the sample-based survey.
In general, the trends we saw in the first three weeks of data remained true throughout the survey period. A smaller share of Utahns experienced impacts of COVID-19 than nationwide. Although this average makes things seem a bit less bleak, it does not change the fact that many individuals and households are experiencing significant adverse changes to their lives.
For example, an average of 48% of adults nationwide reported a loss of employment income across the 12 weeks, while 41% of Utahns experienced the same. In Utah, younger residents (under age 55), residents with lower household incomes ($99,000 or less), and racial and ethnic minority residents experienced job loss at higher rates. Over one-third (35%) of nationwide respondents anticipated a loss of employment income in the future, with about a quarter of Utahns feeling the same. Statewide, the same groups who experienced higher rates of job loss also expected loss of employment income in the future.
With increased local and national conversations around issues of the digital divide and children learning from home, we decided to pull information on access to computers and the availability of the internet for households with children in school. Nationwide, computers were rarely or never available for children to participate in school for about 5% of households. In Utah, this share was about half at 2.6%. These small shares translate to small samples for breakouts. However, it appears that a higher share of racial and ethnic minority households fell into this category (5.4%) than non-Hispanic white households (1.4%) for the majority of Phase 1 of the survey.
Mental health issues have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. The frequency of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, loss of interest, and an inability to stop worrying is highest among Utahns with lower household incomes, and those in the youngest age categories.
Phase 2 of the Household Pulse Survey began on August 19, with the initial data release covering August 19 to 31 occurring September 9. The 2nd phase will include some of the same questions, with additional questions to build further context.
We built this data mining tool so you can explore and analyze how Utahns are experiencing the current economic and public health crises. We plan to include updated survey results as they are available.
Mallory Bateman is a senior research associate and state data center coordinator at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
Emily Harris is a demographer at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.