Massive federal stimulus payments, increased vaccines and a steep drop in coronavirus cases have eased distress for Americans, but most still don’t feel confident about their financial well-being. The way people feel about their finances is still about 12% below pre-pandemic levels, according to a one-year survey by Morning Consult. Anxiety is worst in the south and west and in states like Nevada and Hawaii, whose economies rely heavily on tourism.
Read: US Gains 916,000 New Jobs in Another Clear Sign of Strengthening Economy Morning Consult’s weekly consumer confidence survey has been one of the best polls to gauge how Americans have reacted to the coronavirus over the past year . Survey results are included in MarketWatch’s Coronavirus Recovery Tracker. The latest findings, drawn from some 2.6 million interviews last year, showed that people in the Northeast are feeling more optimistic about their finances. Even though the Northeast has been one of the largest coronavirus hot spots in the country, states in the region provide higher unemployment benefits than most of the rest of the country. “The generosity of unemployment benefits probably explains some of these regional divergences,” said Morning Consult. Other Potential Factors: The Northeast may have more people who can work from home in a region of the country with a high percentage of professional workers and the densest range of high-speed Internet lines. The Northeast also voted heavily for President Joe Biden. Other polls show large partisan divisions in how Americans view their financial health. Democrats became much more optimistic, and conservatives more pessimistic, after the election. Anxiety was highest in the South, although most states avoided tight closures and their economies remained more open. Lower unemployment benefits and fewer opportunities for home work may have played a role. The states in which anxiety is greatest are those whose economies depend heavily on tourism and travel. Unsurprisingly, the hardest hit were Hawaii’s tourist destination and gambling mecca, Nevada. Confidence is certainly likely to rise, and sharply, if coronavirus cases continue to decline. Most Americans who want a vaccine should be able to get it within the next month. Read: Inflation is back in Wall Street‘s crosshairs as the economy recovers The economy itself is already recovering in a big way, with the United States adding more than 900,000 new jobs in March alone. Many of these new jobs came from companies that suffered the most during the pandemic, such as airlines, hotels, resorts, restaurants, entertainment venues, and amusement places. More Americans are flying and planning vacations, good news for states that rely on tourism.