The coronavirus recession has been financially devastating for many Americans. It has been a boon for others.
Many are going hungry or worried about eviction. Others are paying down debt or even buying second homes. What’s left is a confounding picture of U.S. household finances.
The current recession, like any other, has deepened the division between those who can navigate it and those who can’t. But the unusual nature of this downturn has made those differences starker.
The economy collapsed this year at record speed, but the federal government rushed in with additional unemployment benefits, stimulus checks and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. Banks allowed customers to pause mortgage and car payments without penalty. As a result, many people who lost their jobs have stayed afloat.
And those with secure jobs, stuck at home with fewer places to spend money, came out ahead. Cutting back on commuting costs and eating out gave them more flexibility to spend on luxuries such as home improvement. Home sales had their biggest monthly gain ever in July, boosted by people looking to escape cities. There has been record demand in second-home destinations, and many are buying with cash, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting LLC.