WINDSOR, Conn., April 8, 2020—A new LIMRA study finds just 25% of Americans have a favorable view of the economy, down from 56% in January 2020, which marked the highest consumer sentiment about the economy since LIMRA began tracking the metric in 2008. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, more than half (57%) of Americans are very or extremely concerned about the economy.
“Uncertainty about the coronavirus pandemic undercut the economic growth we have experienced over the past several years,” said Alison Salka, Ph.D., senior vice president and research director for LIMRA. “Consumers are not only worried about their health and well-being and the health and well-being of family and friends, but they are also worried about the economic impact this will have on them now and in the future.”
LIMRA’s new study finds the coronavirus pandemic is undermining consumers’ confidence in their short-term and long-term financial security. Forty-four percent say they are very or extremely concerned about their household’s short-term financial security and nearly half (49%) are very worried about their long-term financial security. More than 4 in 10 consumers are very worried that the coronavirus pandemic will:
- Limit their access to medical care;
- Hurt their ability to work;* and
- Damage their long-term job security.*
*Full- and part-time workers
Beyond the Financial Impact
Coronavirus has disrupted many Americans’ day-to-day lives to different degrees. Thirty-nine percent report social distancing has demanded significant lifestyle changes and another 34% say they have made moderate lifestyle changes. More than a third of Americans believe they will have to practice social distancing for 1-2 months and more than a quarter (27%) think it will last more than 2 months.
“We are in a unique situation where the economic downturn is not necessarily the primary concern for consumers,” said Salka. “Our research confirms that a significant portion of the population is worried about their physical and mental health and access to medical care and basic necessities.”
Among consumers’ top personal concerns prompted by the coronavirus outbreak are:
- Family/friends in high-risk categories – 59%
- Children’s schooling/education* – 54%
- Access to medical care – 45%
- Physical health – 43%
- Access to food and other necessities – 40%
- Mental health – 35%
*Those with children under age 23
Coronavirus Spurs Societal Concerns
While consumers are worried about their personal well-being and that of their friends and family, the study uncovered more anxiety about broader issues. Seven in 10 consumers are worried about the economic impact of coronavirus and how long it will last, with 71% of consumers believing the U.S. economy is likely or extremely likely to enter a recession this year. Two-thirds (66%) are concerned about whether the U.S. healthcare system is prepared for and capable of handling the influx of patients; 6 in 10 are worried about the federal government’s ability to manage the crisis; more than half are worried about their state/local government’s ability to manage the crisis; and half are concerned about the overall societal impact this event will have.
First initiated in early 2008 to gauge consumer opinion of the economy and the financial services industry, LIMRA’s Consumer Sentiment Survey has continued to monitor Americans' sentiment about the economy and confidence in industries since 2008. The latest results are based on responses from 3,000 Americans ages 18+, weighted to the U.S. general population. The survey was conducted March 25-26, 2020.
Serving the industry since 1916, LIMRA helps to advance the financial services industry by empowering nearly 700 financial services companies in 53 countries with knowledge, insights, connections, and solutions. Visit LIMRA at www.limra.com.