Census: Pandemic bashes Utah families economically

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Salvador Cadena hands out milk as the Utah Food Bank does a big food giveaway at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on April 24, 2020, as hundreds line up for drive-thru pick up.

The coronavirus is walloping Utahns economically — from cutting pay to making it hard to buy enough food, meet rent or mortgage payments or afford medical care, according to a quick survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

But the pain here actually is less than what most Americans are reporting, according to an experimental Household Pulse Survey released Wednesday, which the bureau intends to conduct weekly to measure the effects of COVID-19 on households.

From May 7-12, the survey interviewed 947 people in Utah, and 74,500 nationally. Among its findings are:

• 44.4% of Utahns said someone in their household “experienced a loss of employment income” since coronavirus was declared a national emergency on March 13.

That was a bit lower than the national average of 47.5%

• Utahns expect that even more household members will lose jobs or income in the next four weeks. The survey said some 27.2% foresee that.

Nationally, the average expecting that is 37%.

• About one of every 10 Utah households reports difficulty in getting enough food to eat. The report said 9.7% report food scarcity either because they cannot afford to buy it, can’t get transportation to buy it, or because availability of the food they like is limited.

The average for that nationally is 10.6%.

• More than a third of Utahns, 36.3%, report delaying medical care because of the pandemic. Nationally, the average was 41.1%.

• About one of every six Utahns reports having trouble paying their rent or mortgage. The survey said 15.7% either have missed a payment, or are not confident they will be able to make their next one.

Nationally, the average is much higher at 24.7%.

• In an unusual number for any survey, all Utahns — 100% — report K-12 school children in their homes had their education changed by coronavirus, such as from school closures or a switch to distance learning. Nationally, the number was 99.7%.

That new survey comes after the Census Bureau released a similar quick survey about small businesses last week.

It reported that four of every five small businesses in Utah have sought financial assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, and more than a quarter figure that returning to normal will require at least six months.

One of every 14 says business will never return to normal.