Half of Detroiters fear they'll run out of money within 3 months because of coronavirus lockdown, survey shows


People wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 in downtown Detroit. - CITY OF DETROIT
  • City of Detroit
  • People wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 in downtown Detroit.

About half of Detroiters believe they are likely to go broke in the next three months if the coronavirus lockdown continues for that long and there’s no financial assistance to families, according to a new survey from the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study.

One in five Detroiters say they "definitely" will run out of money.

"The DMACS survey results show Detroiters are not only concerned for their health but also their economic well-being during this pandemic," Jeffrey Morenoff, one of the faculty research leads for DMACS and director of the Population Studies Center at University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, says in a news release. "We hope early insights into how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting Detroiters can help inform policy responses that directly address the community's needs."

The economic lockdown is having a disproportionate impact on Detroit, where a third of the population is impoverished. Many Detroiters relied on lower-paying jobs that were eliminated because working from home is not an option.

About 35% of Detroiters have lost their jobs in the midst of the pandemic, compared to about 25% in all of Michigan, according to the poll. The job losses disproportionately impacted parents of younger children, people with lower incomes and less education, people of color, and people under 30 years old.

"The survey results show racial disparities in who has the financial means to weather this crisis as well as who is able to socially isolate and alter their work activities to help prevent the coronavirus spread," Lydia Wileden, a University of Michigan doctoral candidate who analyzed the survey data, says in a news release. "Responses to the pandemic in Detroit need to take into account those disparities and include all residents in the recovery from this economic disruption."

The survey also found that Detroiters are most worried about “being able to care for family and friends and getting the health care they need during the coronavirus pandemic, even more so than having a place to live and access to transportation.”

Many of the Detroiters who were surveyed said the top priorities of governments should be providing cash assistance to families and access to health care.

Statewide, more than 1 million Michigan residents are receiving unemployment assistance after losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

“We are working hard to provide emergency financial assistance to those affected by COVID-19, with more than 1 million Michiganders receiving benefits,” Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio says in a news release. “While Michigan’s unemployment system appears to be outpacing the rest of the country in paying benefits, much work remains for those who still need help completing their claim. We will not rest until everyone receives the benefits they are entitled to.”
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