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Almost 20% of households have lost work due to the coronavirus — and that was before states shut down restaurants and bars

A new poll finds that nearly 1 in 5 Americans have lost work

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The wide-ranging preventative measures introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in nearly 1 in 5 Americans experiencing a layoff or a reduction in work hours, according to a newly released poll.

As cities and states continue to shut down schools, restaurants, bars, and more, and as people remain at home in order to stunt the spread of the virus, many businesses are starting to feel the economic effects.

By the time the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll was conducted on March 13-14 — days before many states had announced stricter lockdown measures — layoffs and reduced hours had already hit 18% of U.S. households.

According to a report by food news website Eater.com, dozens of states mandated shutdowns for restaurants and bars effective earlier this week, on Monday and Tuesday. Unless most restaurant owners preemptively adjusted employee schedules, this news could mean that 18% is only the beginning and that the loss of work rate could significantly expand in the weeks and months ahead.

In fact, NPR noted in a report on the poll's findings that restaurants, bars, and travel industries have been among the hardest hit, but that the ripple effects of the economic downturn are expected to eventually affect the entire economy.

The poll also revealed that lower-income workers have been affected the most so far as a quarter of households making less than $50,000 have already experienced loss of work. While some American employees are able to work from home, for many blue-collar businesses and retail industry jobs, remote work is simply not an option.

In an advisory notice sent from the White House Monday, President Trump recommended that Americans avoid social gatherings consisting of more than 10 people. That notice, along with recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday calling for the cancellation of mass gatherings, prompted cities and states to order restaurants, bars, and other community gathering spaces to temporarily close.

The president, aware of the dangerous economic effects such preventative measures could result in, has advocated for a multibillion-dollar stimulus package to protect the economy. The package is reported to include $250 billion in direct payments to Americans and provide significant relief for small businesses.

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