Similarly, economists and sociologists have previously observed that people who suffer temporary disruptions to their employment or income may have to deal with the aftereffects (including lower lifetime earnings, weaker career advancement, and degraded mental health) for some time afterward.1

The latest in the Consumer Finance Institute’s (CFI) series of COVID-19 Surveys of Consumers, conducted in September 2020, examines the proportion of survey respondents who are currently and who have at any time during the pandemic experienced an employment disruption in the form of income loss, job loss, or reduced hours worked (e.g., a measure of cumulative disruptions). This analysis provides a view into the totality of families who, because of the pandemic, may be experiencing immediate and lingering financial stress. The survey results show that cumulative disruptions are greatest for lower-income, younger, and minority workers, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the data also show that these workers feel less confident and expect to need more assistance in the near future.

1 Extensive literature exists that analyze the effect of job loss and unemployment on future outcomes for economic, social, and health categories. In general, the literature supports that interruptions in employment and income result in measurable effects even as much as 10 years in the future (Stevens, 1995; Eliason and Storrie, 2006; Lepage-Saucier, 2016). Brand (2015) provides a detailed overview of the economic and sociological work in the field; while some researchers note that unemployment events coinciding with widespread economic issues (e.g., a pandemic) may result in lower social-psychological effects for the individual, there remains general agreement that medium- and long-term effects are common.