Six in 10 Americans have lost jobs, hours or income from the coronavirus pandemic, according to results of a new survey from Strada Education Network, a nonprofit that researches and funds education and employment pathways. These results are the second weekly batch in a multiweek longitudinal study. The share of respondents who have lost income is up 15 percentage points from the previous week's results.
Strada's data suggest that degrees and credentials are not insulating Americans from the economic effects of the pandemic. Two-thirds of associate or vocational degree holders and 63 percent of bachelor's degree holders reported lost income, compared to only 54 percent of participants with some college experience but no degree.
"Although this is hitting everyone really hard, in some ways that population was a little bit less impacted by losing jobs or income," Nichole Torpey-Saboe, Strada's director of research, said in reference to the participants with some college credit but no degree, noting that in the future the organization may want to look at the industries where those respondents are employed.
About a third of respondents said that if they were to lose their job, they believe they would need additional education or training to maintain their same income, consistent with the previous week's results. Of those, 64 percent said they would look for a job in a different field.
The Strada respondents also demonstrated a large preference for online instruction. Over half said that if they were given $5,000 to invest in their education, they would spend it on online education, as opposed to in-person education or employer-provided training.
Torpey-Saboe said that while a person's level of education affected what degree level they would choose to pursue in that situation (bachelor's degree holders aren't looking at community colleges, for example), the preference for online was felt at all education levels.
"We haven't seen any sort of pattern that stands out for level of education," she said.
The survey did not address how consumers believe they will pay or would like to pay for any future education. Dave Clayton, Strada's senior vice president for consumer insights, said that when the dust settles and government stimulus bills have been completed, that may be a better time to ask the question.
Andrew Hanson, director of research at Strada, said that while the survey did not look at exactly how this downturn is affecting employment pathways, there is definite concern in that area.
"Access to things like internships and other options that employers provide are of concern I would think going forward, but it's probably too early to tell," he said.
In the 2008 recession, he noted, more recent employees were usually the first to be let go.
"No reason to anticipate that will be different this time," he said.
The latest survey was conducted with 1,000 respondents over the age of 18 and was representative of the general population in terms of age, gender, region and race.