CORONAVIRUS

Grinnell poll: Americans confident of surviving COVID-19 crisis

But they also feel stressed and boxed in

A record 3.28 million people filed for unemployment insurance last week as the coronavirus locked down business activity
A record 3.28 million people filed for unemployment insurance last week as the coronavirus locked down business activity across the U.S. (Elizabeth Robertson/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

Nearly nine out of 10 Americans are confident the nation will survive the coronavirus pandemic, according to new findings by the Grinnell College National Poll.

The poll of 1,009 adults, including 777 likely 2020 election voters, also found that 70 percent said they are willing to shelter in place as long as it is asked of them.

“My three words on coronavirus are confident, calm and compliant,” said J. Ann Selzer, founder of Selzer & Company, which conducted the poll March 27-30.

Despite their confidence, Americans told Selzer they are stressed (55 percent), boxed in (42 percent), scared (39 percent), angry (31 percent) and doomed (15 percent).

“But more say they feel calm (72 percent) a lot of the time, and a huge majority feel confident the nation will get through this and be OK,” she said.

Economic impact hits young adults hard

As Americans shelter at home, the economic impact is falling more heavily on younger adults than on middle-age and older people. More than half, 57 percent, say they’ve lost wages or expect to, 45 percent say the same about furloughs and 43 percent expect to be unable to pay a bill. One-quarter of younger adults said they have gone hungry or expect to go hungry because of difficulty obtaining food.

“While most Americans sheltering in place, the economic consequences of doing so are substantial and fall most heavily on those who are under 35,” said Peter Hanson, associate professor of political science at Grinnell College and Grinnell College National Poll director.

“They are much more likely than those who are older to have been laid off or to have difficulty paying their bills, and they are reporting more stress, as well.”

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Younger workers, who are more likely to work in the restaurant industry and other service sector jobs, are less likely to have stable employment.

“In the event of a downturn, these types of workers are often the first to go,” said Eric Ohrn, Grinnell professor of economics.

“Within a few short months, the economy may move from under 4 percent unemployment to over 25 percent — a figure commonly given for the height of the Great Depression,” said Bill Ferguson, Grinnell College professor of economics.

Less than half of those surveyed said President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are their most trusted sources of information about COVID-19. But 91 percent trust their doctor, and 83 percent said they completely trust government public health experts.

Poll respondents were contacted by phone — both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a 3.5 percent margin of error.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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