A Message Federal Reserve Board Releases Report: Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2020

May 20th, 2021

Today, the Federal Reserve Board released a report, Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2020, which reveals that in the fourth quarter of 2020, nearly one-fourth of adults said that they were worse off financially compared to a year earlier, reflecting the economic fallout and distress resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the increase in the share of Americans doing worse off financially, most believed they were still at least doing “okay” financially overall. Seventy-five percent of adults were either doing okay or living comfortably in November, which was unchanged from 2019 after having fluctuated through the year. However, persistent disparities in well-being across education and race remained.

The report draws from the Board’s eighth annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED), which examines the economic well-being and financial lives of U.S. adults and their families. The 2020 survey of over 11,000 adults was conducted in November of last year, offering a picture of how individuals were faring eight months after the onset of the pandemic.

The survey also covered topics related to employment and layoffs and showed that those with less education fell further behind during the pandemic. Further, the report highlights the effects of disruptions in childcare and schooling. Twenty-two percent of all parents were either not working (9 percent) or were working less (13 percent) because of such disruptions. School closures affected students of all ages, including many post-secondary students who reported taking classes online. Only 22 percent of parents of online K-12 students and 34 percent of college students taking classes online felt that they were learning as much as they would have been in person.

Financial repercussions related to COVID-19 continue to evolve, and the Federal Reserve Board will continue to monitor them.

You may access report, downloadable data, data visualizations, and a video summarizing the survey’s findings on the Board’s website at: https://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerscommunities/shed.htm.