United Way announces preliminary results of COVID-19 survey: 69% of Louisianans’ primary concern is the fear of contracting COVID-19

United Way announces preliminary results of COVID-19 survey:
69% of Louisianans’ primary concern is the fear of contracting COVID-19

Baton Rouge. In May, United Ways across Louisiana and the Louisiana Association of United Ways conducted a statewide survey to assess the impact the COVID19 crisis had, thus far, on Louisiana families. Preliminary results are in and despite the dynamic challenges faced, Louisianans’ number one concern is contracting COVID-19.

“Looking ahead to recovery and rebuilding, Louisiana United Ways seeks to be grounded in feedback from the people we serve. These preliminary results confirm the deep financial impact of the crisis, especially for those with loss or reduction of income,” said Sarah Berthelot, Louisiana Association of United Ways President and CEO. “While we had a robust response to the survey, there is so much more to learn about the needs of our communities, especially about the struggles of people of color and challenges they are facing. This is an ongoing conversation. As we learn, we will share to support an informed and inclusive path forward.”

Before the pandemic hit, one in four Louisiana households were led by workers unable to earn enough to cover the basics and save for unexpected crises or a job loss.

This survey, conducted at zero cost, thanks to a network of volunteer experts, including Steven Dick, PhD., member of the Louisiana ALICE (Asset limited, Income-constrained and Employed) Research Advisory Council, and advisory assistance provided by the National ALICE Project Team.

Dick says that this survey was conducted with a large volunteer sample across the state with 85% of respondents completing the entire survey.  

“We had 2,016 usable responses, with responses from every parish in Louisiana,” Dick said. “While responses were not scientifically drawn from a random sample, the respondent pool was sufficiently large to allow for weighing to the population statewide.”

Key takeaways from the preliminary results of the Louisiana United Way COVID-19 Survey coordinated by the Louisiana Association of United Ways: 

• When asked what would make an important difference to household finances, 67% indicated that help with everyday bills and housing payments would provide the greatest relief. 

• All Louisianans have been impacted by COVID-19, regardless of income, however households with annual incomes less than $35,000 faced the largest number of setbacks and range of challenges.  

• Prior to the pandemic, 31% reported having enough saved to cover expenses for no more than three weeks, and 18% of Louisiana citizens held enough money to cover less than seven days of expenses. 

• Louisiana citizens losing jobs, because of the pandemic, faced an abrupt loss of income to cover household expenses. Unemployment benefits were essential to cover household expenses for 28% of the people during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, people receiving unemployment benefits still needed help to meet needs — including (people could check more than one answer): 

  • 21% report relying on credit
  • 31% took out loans 
  • 21% sought help from either local food banks and/or other community assistance
  • 36% accepted SNAP food benefits. 

• Respondents reported a 42% reduction in household employment, with employment losses inflicting the greatest pain on low-income workers. Black and Hispanic respondents indicated an overall employment reduction of 51%. Reductions include job loss, reduction of hours or furloughs. 

• About 76% of Louisiana citizens received the stimulus check from the CARES Act of 2020 consistent with the national benefit level. Most leveraged the funds to pay for food, bills and housing payments, with 51% of respondents expecting the money to last two weeks or less. 

• Child care was necessary for 23% of statewide respondents to earn an income with 49% of this group worried that adequate child care would not be available in the times ahead. After stay at home orders started, 47% were forced to quickly change childcare arrangements to maintain overall income. Changes in childcare access led to the loss of jobs for 17% of caregivers — and 12% forced to reduce work hours. 

• Louisiana 211 became a vital source of information, with 12% of respondents across all income levels using Louisiana 211 for help and information since February 1. Those in mid to low income levels, facing a higher level of impact from COVID-19, were more likely to call Louisiana 211 over the last three months. 

• COVID-19 disrupted more than just employment as 44% of respondents worried that mental health needs could not be adequately addressed. 

“We are grateful to the thousands of people who took the time to share their thoughts and experiences with us during this trying time,” said Berthelot. “We are looking forward to early August when Louisiana United Ways release the 2020 ALICE Report for Louisiana and additional information from the survey results we are gathering and analyzing.”

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