The Impact of COVID-19 on Working Class Americans

Consumer Trends & Insights

As a leading performance marketing company, we are leveraging our real-time survey capabilities to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on everyday life in the US. Interacting with nearly one million Americans daily across our portfolio of owned and operated media properties, we are collecting timely and reliable insights at a massive scale to help businesses and municipalities best respond to the needs of consumers during this pandemic.


General nervousness about the novel coronavirus outbreak


Changes in job status and work situation due to COVID-19


Adjustments to buying behavior and other aspects of daily life


Americans Surveyed

Last Updated August 12, 2020

Employment and Finances

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the national economy and left millions of Americans without work. With the extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits expiring in July, President Trump has approved an executive memorandum intended to provide $400 per week in expanded benefits for those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. While Trump’s memorandum would make those payments retroactive to August 1, backlash from Congress and a lack of state funding could delay this money from reaching Americans’ bank accounts.

This week we asked our audience how they are managing their finances amidst the pandemic, comparing their latest responses to those collected in April. We look at those who have altered their budgets and the areas where they are cutting back on spending. We also examine the impact of the lapse in extra unemployment benefits, as well as sentiment around COVID-19 surcharges.  

Since your work has been disrupted by the onset of the coronavirus, how are you managing financially?


of Americans are struggling to manage their finances - a 14% increase since April.

Bar chart comparing how Americans are struggling financially in August vs. April

Since April, far fewer people are relying on the stimulus check to make ends meet (18% in August vs. 33% in April).

Will the expiration of the extra $600 unemployment benefit impact your ability to make essential payments like rent and food costs?


of unemployment recipients will have difficulty paying rent and purchasing necessities when the $600 unemployment benefit expires.

80% of unemployment recipients will have difficulty paying rent and purchasing necessities when the $600 unemployment benefit expires.

When the $600 unemployment benefits expires, Gen Zers will have an easier times coping than their older counterparts.

Bar graph comparing how each generation will handle the $600 unemployment benefit expiring

Have you had to alter your budget due to the pandemic?

57% of Americans have had to alter their budgets due to the pandemic.

57% of Americans have had to alter their budget due to the pandemic

59% of women adjusted their budget due to the pandemic, compared to 54% of men.

59% of women have had to alter their budget due to the pandemic vs. 54% of men

Compared to other age groups, Gen Xers and baby boomers are most likely to have altered their budget during the pandemic.

Bar graph comparing if each generation has had to alter their budget due to the pandemic

If you had to decrease your budget, what would you be most likely to reduce or remove?

Americans are most likely to reduce expenses on entertainment (36%) and dining out (32%). Costs associated with personal care and transportation are least likely to be reduced.

Circle graph comparing what Americans would reduce or remove from their spending if forced to cut their budget

Compared to other generations, Gen Zers and millennials are most likely to prioritize dining out over entertainment.

Bar graph comparing how each generation would alter their spending should they need to decrease their budget

Businesses have begun implementing a COVID-19 surcharge as they’ve reopened. Do you feel this is reasonable?

77% of Americans believe that COVID surcharges are unreasonable.

77% of Americans believe that COVID surcharges are unreasonable

Compared to other age groups, Gen Zers are the least likely to find COVID-19 surcharges unreasonable.

A bar graph comparing each generations reaction to COVID surcharges

See what other insights we've gathered to date

Thanksgiving Day Store Closures

See Results


How is this data collected?

‘Fluent Pulse’ reflects a daily online survey collected across Fluent’s portfolio of owned & operated websites.

Who is the audience?

Fluent attracts a massive audience across its network of owned media properties. While all segments of the US population are represented, the below are our most prevalent demographic skews:

Demographic Attribute Over Penetrated Among
Age Median: 38

61% between the age of 18 & 44

Gender 50/50 Male/Female
Education High School Degree or Some College
Homeownership 61% Renters
Households with Children 42% of Audience

How many people were surveyed?

On average, 150,000 – 175,000 consumers respond daily.

Is the data weighted?

No, but representative of the overall Fluent Audience.

How do you protect consumers data privacy?

All responses related to this survey are anonymized; only survey responses will be disclosed. At no point will consumer’s personal information will ever be disclosed.

What was your methodology?

Data has been collected from U.S. adults on a daily or weekly basis, dependent upon topic, since March 10, 2020. All data is sourced from Fluent’s portfolio of owned and operated media properties. Results are specific to the Fluent audience and not reflective of the general U.S. population.

The data presented on this site does not reflect the official opinion, policy or position of Fluent, Inc. This research is only meant to inform and illustrate, as an example, the rich data assets Fluent can derive insights from to drive in-market strategies.