Census: Pandemic still battering Utah families economically

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Kelsey Berg offers fresh eggs as the third “Miracle Project” for the nonprofit foundation which raises money to purchase food produced by Utah farmers and then gives to residents in need, takes place at the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 27, 2020. The food donation from the Utah Farm Bureau’s “Farmers Feeding Utah” program provided food for 600 individuals and families who have recently become unemployed due to the coronavirus.

Three months of weekly surveys show that COVID-19 continues to wallop Utahns economically, from cutting their pay to making it hard to buy enough food, pay rent or mortgages or obtain medical care.

Still, Utahns seem to be doing better than most Americans.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its 12th consecutive weekly Household Pulse Survey to measure how Americans are doing financially amid the pandemic. It shows that Utahns are about in the same condition as when surveys began three months ago.

Among findings are:

• 40.7% of Utahns now say someone in their household “experienced a loss of employment income” since the coronavirus was declared a national emergency on March 13, according to the survey conducted July 16-21.

That’s about the same as the 39.9% of Utahns who reported such a loss in corrected data from the first survey conducted 12 weeks earlier.

Nationally, 51.1% now report someone in their household had such an income loss.

• Utahns expect that even more household members will lose jobs or income in the next four weeks. The survey said 25.6% foresee that, down a bit from the 28.7% who made that prediction three months ago.

Nationally, the average of Americans now expecting such a coming loss is 35.2%.

• About one of every 15 Utah households still reports difficulty in getting enough food to eat. The report said 6.8% report food scarcity either because they cannot afford to buy it, can’t get transportation to shop for groceries, or because availability of the food they like is limited.

That’s slightly worse than the 6.1% of Utahns who reported such scarcity three months ago. The percentage reached as high as 10.6% once during the third week of surveys.

The average for that now nationally is 12.1%, nearly twice as high as in Utah.

• More than a third of Utahns, 34.6%, now report delaying medical care because of the pandemic. That is down from the 40.4% who reported doing that in the first week of surveys.

Nationally, 34.6% of Americans now report delaying medical care.

• About one of every seven Utahns reports having trouble paying their rent or mortgage. The survey said 14.4% either have missed a payment, or are not confident they will be able to make their next one. That is down slightly from 14.9% who reported that in the first survey.

Nationally, the average is now 26.5%.