Americans Stayed Inside Even as Cities and States Reopened

Well after U.S. economies began reopening this year, Americans continued to stay home.

By the latter half of August, 130 million Americans said they avoided eating at restaurants, a new U.S. Census Bureau survey analyzed by Bloomberg Newsshows. Only about 21 million of the nearly 250 million people surveyed had resumed dining out, according to the data gathered in collaboration with multiple federal agencies.

Asked if they were still making fewer trips to stores in late August than before the pandemic, 70% said “yes.” Even among the youngest adults aged 18 to 24, 68% said they were shopping less.

In some cases, the ability to stay home was tied to income. More than 70% of households earning more than $100,000 said they were able to substitute telecommuting for some in-person work. By comparison, only 27% of households with annual incomes under $75,000 said someone in their home was able to telecommute.

The latest Household Pulse data was collected between Aug. 19 and Aug. 31 and the survey is expected to continue until Oct. 26.

Here are some additional highlights:

  • About 24%, or almost 12 million people, who applied for unemployment benefits didn’t receive them. Of those, nearly 580,000 were in households earning $150,000.
  • Almost 780,000 people aged 65 or older applied for Social Security earlier than they anticipated. In that same age group, another 323,000 will delay applying due to the financial impact of the pandemic.
  • More than 20,000 New Yorkers earning $200,000 or more are leaving the workforce earlier than they’d planned and applying for Social Security.
  • Of those pursuing post-secondary education, 29% said “all plans to take classes this fall have been canceled.” A little less than half of those said they had concerns about contracting Covid-19, or already had the illness. Another 42% said they couldn’t pay for educational expenses due to changes in income from the pandemic.
  • More than 100 million Americans reported feeling down, depressed or hopeless over the past week, with those between 18 and 29 — along with people who’d lost jobs or were living alone — the most likely to express those emotions.

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