United Way’s COVID-19 impact survey illuminates the pandemic’s financial impact on Pennsylvanians

United Way of Pennsylvania (UWP) released a survey that gives the first snapshot of how individual households have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey shows that contracting the virus is the top concern for most Pennsylvanians, but a significant portion of respondents also have struggled to provide for their basic needs, maintain work, and access childcare and remote learning. 

UWP is a statewide membership organization located in Harrisburg, which advocates on behalf of United Way public policy priorities. UWP conducted a COVID-19 Impact Survey in August to assess the financial and household burdens that the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused on our state’s families. The two-week survey received over 1700 responses from 61 counties, all income levels and both urban and rural representation. 

“United Way hopes these survey results will inform policymakers, advocates, and community leaders as we work towards recovery and a prosperous future for all Pennsylvanians,” said Kristen Rotz, president of United Way of PA and Executive Director of PA 211. 

When asked, “What COVID-19 issue is your household most concerned with,” the top concern for all respondents was the risk of a family member contracting COVID-19. The top concern for low to middle income households is paying for housing expenses. Fifty-two percent of these households were somewhat or very concerned about eviction and foreclosure and 77 percent of low to middle income households can pay their bills with their savings for a month or less.  

Food access issues are another predominant concern of survey respondents: 21% of respondents received food from a food bank or pantry; 52% of respondents experienced being unable to find as much food as they needed to purchase for their household; and 31% of respondents experienced being unable to afford the amount or kind of food needed for their household. 

“United Way would like to remind all Pennsylvanians who are struggling to provide for their families’ basic needs that PA 211 is a one-stop call for help. But please reach out for assistance as soon as possible. Do not wait until eviction or utility shutoff are imminent, because our community partners need time to determine eligibility and connect you to emergency resources if you qualify,” Rotz added. 

Anyone can dial 211, text their zip code to 898-211, or search for resources at www.pa211.org. 

Childcare and remote learning are also top of mind for Pennsylvanians. Thirty-three percent of respondents listed childcare, education, and remote learning as a concern. The top concerns of households with children included helping children with remote learning, juggling work and children’s needs, and Internet access. Thirty-five percent of respondents indicated that they have reduced their hours or at work or quit a job due to childcare issues since March 1. Only half of the sample said that childcare had no impact on their household members’ ability to work. 

Rotz continued, “Public investment to support accessible, affordable high-quality childcare is essential to help our economy recover from the pandemic. Many parents do not get to choose to work from home or step away from a career to care for children during a pandemic. We need safe child care to be ready and available for every phase of the recovery.” 

For more information about COVID-19 pandemic resources, visit www.uwp.org. For free immediate and personalized help, reach out to PA 211, Dial 211, or text your zip code to 898-211. You can also visit www.pa211.org for more information.

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