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Two-Thirds Of Floridians Have Lost Wages Or Had Job Disrupted, Survey Shows

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
U.S. Army photo
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A new survey shows one out of four people in the state have had their work hours cut because of the pandemic - and nearly 18 percent have been laid off from work.

The Sunshine State Surveyof 600 people was done by Nielsen and the University of South Florida. According to USF assistant professor Joshua Scacco, six out of 10 respondents said they are concerned about the effect the economic shutdown is having on their finances.

"We're talking about widespread economic concern, anxiety and disruption from this," he said. "You're seeing across the board, from individuals who are still employed to individuals who are now unemployed, economic disruption because of the novel coronavirus.

"What we're seeing is even among individuals who have not faced a furlough, a cut in their hours and/or layoffs, that we're also seeing disruptions to the types of work that still-employed individuals are also doing," Scacco said. "It's a widespread disruption in impacts to the ways in which Floridians are working right now."

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Scacco said a racial divide is also vividly illustrated in the survey.

African-Americans who responded are nearly twice as likely as whites to have their hours cut and have filed for unemployment; and Hispanics have more than twice the average rate of being laid off and taking a financial hit.

"So what we're seeing is a perfect storm related to the systemic inequities that have been in place for minority communities in Florida and across the United States, that's impacting health and it's impacting work and life right now," Scacco said.

Among other findings of the USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey:

Florida households have been hard hit by the economic slowdown. Two-thirds of individuals surveyed indicate at least some level of income loss or work disruption. More than a quarter of households (26.6%) have had their hours cut at work since the start of the pandemic, while 17.9% have experienced a temporary furlough, 13.4% have had their pay/wages cut, and 11.7% have had a member of the household laid off.

Economic anxiety is high among Floridians.More than 60% of Floridians reported that they are concerned about their ability to meet their financial obligations over the next three months as a result of the COVID-19 situation.

Many were caught off guard by the pandemic.A third of survey respondents (33.8%) indicated that they were not financially prepared for this situation.

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Minority communities face disproportionate impacts.African Americans are significantly more likely than whites to have had their hours cut (40.4% vs. 23.2%), had their pay cut (21.2% vs. 11.4%), been laid off (18.2% vs. 10.1%), and filed for unemployment (26.3% vs. 13.1%). Hispanics were twice as likely to report being laid off than non-Hispanics (18.4% vs. 9.4%). Both African Americans and Hispanics were significantly more likely to express concerns about their ability to meet their financial obligations over the next three months.

Low-income Floridians face the brunt of economic downturn.Those in the lowest income brackets are significantly more likely to have been laid off, while also being significantly less likely to report being financially prepared for the situation.

Floridians have experienced significant work-life transitions.Approximately one-third of Florida households have seen at least one member begin working from home either full-time (22.6%) or part-time (9.6%). Higher-income respondents were significantly more likely to report that they have begun working from home.

Floridians are staying connected in new ways.A majority of respondents (50.5%) reported that they are videoconferencing more frequently than before the pandemic, while 46.8% are talking on the phone more frequently and 42.2% are using social media more often.

The survey of 600 Floridians was fielded April 15-24, 2020, and the results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error +/-4%. 

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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.