The results of a recent NPR poll paint a less rosy portrait of economic recovery and quality of life in the United States than the Biden administration is wont to do.
“Americans have fallen way behind,” begins NPR’s report.
In a survey of 3,616 U.S. adults conducted from Aug. 2 to Sept. 7, many respondents indicated that they still feel trapped in troublesome circumstances — financially, mentally, and otherwise — despite economic growth and ample federal aid.
NPR singles out the Delta variant of COVID-19 as the main culprit.
“More than a year and a half into the COVID-19 outbreak, the recent spread of the highly transmissible delta variant in the United States has extended problems for many households over the past few months,” the survey’s executive summary reads.
“Even though many experts predicted the COVID-19 outbreak would already be subsiding, the delta variant is continuing to cause problems in the lives of most households across the nation, including severe financial and health impacts on a share of households who are in crisis.”
Almost four in 10 American households continue to face “serious financial problems” in 2021. Eighteen percent of those who take home at least $50,000 per year are struggling, as opposed to a whopping 59% of those who make less than $50,000 per year.
In addition, nearly a quarter of U.S. adults report “having a worse job situation” than they had before the onset of the pandemic, while 21% say their job situation is better and 55% say it has remained the same.
Significant problems in education, medical care, and mental well-being remain as well. Most families, 70% of them, don’t think their children will be able to make up a year’s worth of imperfect online instruction and lost learning opportunities. Sixty-nine percent reported that their children fell behind in 2020, while 36% said their children fell behind “a lot.”
Another 18% of households said access to proper medical care was difficult to come by when they needed it. As for telehealth, patient satisfaction was overwhelming (82%), but nearly two-thirds of those using the service still prefer in-person appointments.
Lastly, a lack of mental well-being — a serious but often downplayed or ignored consequence of lockdowns, restrictions, and financial difficulty — continues to afflict many Americans. The survey found that a full 50% of American households have at least one member seriously struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, or sleep quality.
Aside from the Delta variant itself, the U.S. is dealing with supply chain issues, inflation, labor shortages, and a sluggish economic recovery. Just like the month of August, the September jobs report proved to be underwhelming yet again.
“The U.S. economy created jobs at a much slower-than-expected pace in September, a pessimistic sign about the state of the economy, though the total was held back substantially by a sharp drop in government employment,” according to CNBC.
President Joe Biden pointed to wage increases and an unemployment drop as encouraging signs of progress — a response similar to the one he gave in the wake of last month’s jobs report. Nevertheless, both jobs reports fell well short of expectations, and more and more Americans are disapproving of his handling of the economy.