United Way of PA COVID-19 Impact Survey Illuminates the Pandemic’s Financial Impact on Pennsylvanians

Harrisburg, PA – United Way of Pennsylvania (UWP) released a survey which gives the first snapshot of how individual households have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey shows that contracting the virus is the top concern for most Pennsylvanians, but a significant portion of respondents also have struggled to provide for their basic needs, maintain work and access child care and remote learning.

UWP is a statewide membership organization located in Harrisburg which advocates on behalf of United Way public policy priorities. UWP conducted a COVID-19 Impact Survey in August to assess the financial and household burdens that the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused on our state’s families. The two-week survey received over 1700 responses from 61 counties, all income levels and both urban and rural representation.

“United Way hopes these survey results will inform policymakers, advocates, and community leaders as we work towards recovery and a prosperous future for all Pennsylvanians,” said Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of PA and Executive Director of PA 211.

When asked, “What COVID-19 issue is your household most concerned with?” the top concern for all respondents was the risk of a family member contracting COVID-19. The top concern for low to middle income households is paying for housing expenses. Fifty-two percent of these households were somewhat or very concerned about eviction and foreclosure and seventy-seven percent of low to middle income households can pay their bills with their savings for a month or less.  

Food access issues are another predominant concern of survey respondents:

  • 21% of respondents received food from a food bank or pantry
  • 52% of respondents experienced being unable to find as much food as they needed to purchase for their household.
  • 31% of respondents experienced being unable to afford the amount or kind of food needed for their household.

“United Way would like to remind all Pennsylvanians who are struggling to provide for their families’ basic needs that PA 211 is a one-stop call for help. But please reach out for assistance as soon as possible. Do not wait until eviction or utility shutoff are imminent, because our community partners need time to determine eligibility and connect you to emergency resources if you qualify. Anyone can dial 211, text their zip code to 898-211, or search for resources at www.pa211.org.” Rotz said.

Child care and remote learning are also top of mind for Pennsylvanians. Thirty-three percent of respondents listed child care, education, and remote learning as a concern. The top concerns of households with children included helping children with remote learning, juggling work and children’s needs, and internet access. Thirty-five percent of respondents indicated that they have reduced their hours at work or quit a job due to child care issues since March 1. Only half of the sample said that child care had no impact on their household members’ ability to work.

“Public investment to support accessible, affordable high-quality child care is essential to help our economy recover from the pandemic. Many parents to do not get to choose to work from home or step away from a career to care for children during a pandemic. We need safe child care to be ready and available for every phase of the recovery.”

For more information about COVID-19 pandemic resources, visit www.uwp.org. For free immediate and personalized help, reach out to PA 211! Dial 211 or text your zip code to 898-211 or visit www.pa211.org

About United Way of Pennsylvania (UWP)

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. In 2018, United Ways in Pennsylvania raised nearly $170 million for local communities. The United Way of Pennsylvania is a 501(c)(3) was created in 1966 as Community Services of PA, and was renamed in 1979. It is a membership organization whose purpose is to assist and champion the efforts of local United Ways in advancing the common good. Other charitable organizations known as United Funds or Community Chests also can be members of UWP.

UWP engages and connects local United Ways with resources that will help them address their community needs. UWP serves as the voice for 44 member United Ways across the commonwealth on state public policy issues that relate to community impact work in education, income and health.