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Minority, Low-Income Borrowers Bearing Economic Brunt of Pandemic

Minority and low-income households are more likely to have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as are households without a college education, according to Census data analyzed by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS).

In total 44% of households had lost employment as of the end of May. At the time, 7% of homeowners and 15% of renters reported they had not made their prior month’s house/rent payment, according to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey conducted by the Census Bureau.

JCHS found that the impacts of the pandemic are “incredibly broad” but that “some groups have been disproportionately affected.”

“Minority, renter, lower-income households, and households without a college degree were more likely to suffer a decline in income and struggle to pay for their housing,” the JCHS reported.

More than half of both Hispanic and African American households have lost income during the pandemic compared to 39% of white households. Among Hispanic households, 58% have lost income, while 53% of African American households reported a loss of income. Meanwhile, 44% of Asian/other households reported lost income.

About half of households with an income of less than $25,000 and about half of households without a college degree have also reported income loss during the pandemic.

High-income households have been less likely to experience income loss but are not exempt. More than one-third of households with an income of at least $100,000 has also experienced some amount of income loss. Also, one-third of households with a college degree have experienced some amount of income lost during the pandemic.

Both renters and homeowners who were unable to make housing payments in the month prior to the survey were more likely to struggle to pay for essentials such as food. About 26% of homeowners who missed their mortgage payment and 42% of renters who missed their rent reported not having enough food.

The good news is that among those who have experienced some income loss, the share who reported working sometime in the week prior to the survey has been on the rise. In the first and second week since mid-March 43% of those reporting income loss reported working within the past week. By week six, about 50% reported working within the past week.

For these findings, the JCHS used data from the Household Pulse Survey but adjusted them so that they represented households rather than individuals. The JCHS suggested that the original Census data overestimates the impact of COVID-19 and that JCHS’s adjustments give a more accurate depiction.

About Author: Krista F. Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.
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