Delta variant hurts Americans’ income

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Earlier this summer, it looked like things had improved on the coronavirus front. But then the Delta variant took hold, and now cases of COVID-19 are increasing across the country, leaving many people scared and frustrated.

The Delta variant is definitely a major health problem. And new data shows it could already be negatively impacting Americans’ finances.

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A financial blow

A recent report from Morning Consult found that the Delta variant causes a slight increase in lost revenue. Its weekly Lost Pay / Income Tracker, which measures the share of American adults who experience a loss of wages, rose to 13% for the week ending September 11. This is an increase from a pandemic low of 11.4% for the week ending August. 14.

One of the reasons the increase is worrying is that it comes as school resumes. Many parents may have had to reduce their working hours due to lack of access to child care. But nationally, schools were largely reopened for full-time in-person learning in the week ending September 11 – but Americans reported an overall loss in pay nonetheless.

Part of the reason wages could have gone down is that companies may downsize or work hours due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. In addition, the Delta variant can change the habits of consumers.

Now that the epidemic has worsened, some consumers may choose to stay out of stores. This could hurt small businesses that don’t have a setup in place to ship goods and instead rely on in-person foot traffic to stay afloat.

Likewise, some people may stay out of restaurants due to fears related to COVID. And it could impact workers in the restaurant industry, especially those who rely heavily on tips as a substantial part of their income.

In fact, according to Morning Consult’s latest data set, food and beverage workers were the most likely to have suffered a pay cut. For the week ending September 11, a 25.7% drop in income was reported, down from 19.1% for the previous four weeks. Leisure and hospitality workers also saw their incomes suffer, with 19.5% reporting a loss of income.

Compensation for lost income

If your income has taken a hit in recent weeks, there are a few steps you may want to take. First of all, reassess your budget. You may need to cut spending in flexible categories, like hobbies, if you don’t earn enough to cover your monthly bills without dipping into your savings or going into debt. And if you’re already limited to essentials, see if there is any savings you can make by temporarily finding a roommate to share your housing costs or carpooling to work to save money on fuel.

Then, if your pay has been reduced in your main job, see if it is possible to find a secondary job. If you have experienced a loss of income due to the reduction in your hours, you may have some free time to land another job that will help make up the difference.

Finally, check if you are entitled to unemployment benefits. You may be entitled to a partial benefit depending on the extent to which your hours have been reduced.

It is unfortunate that the Delta variant not only causes a health crisis, but also puts a lot of people back financially. Do your best to protect yourself if your paycheck takes a hit. Hopefully this hit will be temporary, but you should still do everything in your power to protect your finances during this volatile time.


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