Number of the day: COVID’s impact on income

Here’s how many workers say they’re earning half or less of their pre-pandemic income—and what it means to HR leaders.
By: | August 17, 2020 • 2 min read


53: Percentage of people who say their income during COVID-19 is about half of what it was pre-pandemic.

More than half of people say they’re currently earning half or less of their pre-pandemic income, according to a survey of more than 1,100 U.S.-based respondents from FlexJobs, which was fielded in partnership with Prudential. Additionally, 46% say their emergency savings wouldn’t last them more than three months and roughly a quarter (24%) said their savings wouldn’t last one month. Overall, 62% do not have enough emergency savings to last six months.

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What it means to HR leaders

The data is the latest to paint a troubling financial picture for employees during the pandemic. Previous research from instant pay company Branch found that 80% of hourly workers have less than $500 saved for an emergency, while 52% had $0 saved.

The data from FlexJobs and Prudential in particular finds that workers in a flexible economy are especially hard hit by COVID-19.

Not surprisingly, boosting wages for workers and providing stable schedules and incomes is one way that employers can help. Some retailers, including Walmart, McDonald’s and Kroger, have handed out bonuses for frontline workers to thank them for working during the pandemic—and to help with unforeseen costs associated with COVID.

Carol Cochran, vice president of people and culture at FlexJobs, says HR leaders can help by being very clear in communicating the availability of all resources that may be useful with financial stress and instability.

“EAP programs often provide financial planning services and certainly overall counseling services to manage the stress,” she says. “Perhaps the company is able to partner with experts for webinars or other educational materials that would be useful. Ultimately, you hope that there are already safety nets in place to help your employees through hard times.”

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Related: COVID-19 is driving anxiety over long-term savings

Read also: How COVID is changing employees’ plans for retirement

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.