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Workers with college degrees have fared better during the coronavirus crisis than those with less education, but most Americans say the relief checks the government will begin distributing next week are needed to pay for necessities like groceries, rent, and utilities.

That’s according to a new survey commissioned by Credible to gauge the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis, and the government’s efforts to cushion those impacts by making direct payments to millions of individuals and families.

The April 7 survey of 1,206 U.S. adults found:

  • Workers with a high school degree or less were 72% more likely to say they’ve been laid off, and 27% more likely to have had their hours cut, than those with a college degree.
  • There’s widespread support for the coronavirus relief checks, with 82% of Americans saying they’re needed and will help the nation recover from the coronavirus crisis.
  • Nearly three in four respondents (73%) say that one relief check is not enough, and that additional help will be needed.

Most people expect to get a check

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — the “CARES Act” — will provide relief checks of:

  • $1,200 to single adults with adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less,
  • $2,400 to married couples earning $150,000 or less, and
  • an additional $500 for every qualifying child age 16 or under.

Single adults earning up to $99,000 and married couples earning up to $198,000 may also qualify for smaller checks.

Credible’s survey found that:

  • More than eight out of 10 people (81.5%) said they expect to receive a coronavirus relief check.
  • Among that group, half expect to receive more than $1,200, and nearly one in three (29.5%) are expecting $2,400 or more.

Those with the least education are hardest hit

As was the case during the financial crisis and Great Recession of 2007-09, workers with less education have been more vulnerable to layoffs and cutbacks in working hours. As stay-at-home orders went into effect around the country to stop the spread of the coronavirus, restaurant and retail workers were hit particularly hard.

Credible’s survey found that:

  • Less than four in 10 workers with a high school diploma or less say they still have the same job and haven’t had their hours cut, compared to more than six in 10 workers with college degrees.
  • Although workers with a high school diploma or less are the most likely to have been laid off or had their hours cut, they’re also the most likely to say they’ve already found a new job.

Most say they’ll spend relief check on necessities

Some lawmakers were opposed to providing relief payments without attempting to determine whether an individual or family actually needed assistance. In the end, Congress decided it would take too long to conduct such “means testing,” so the CARES Act can provide relief to anyone who doesn’t exceed its income limits.

Credible’s survey found that while a few Americans plan to use their coronavirus relief checks for non-essentials like travel and shopping, most say the checks will be earmarked for necessities.

With Congress providing an interest-free, six-month payment break on federally-held student loans through Sept. 30, student loans are next-to-last on the list of likely uses for coronavirus relief checks.

Those expecting to receive a coronavirus relief check said they were most likely to use it to:

  • Buy groceries
  • Save for emergencies
  • Pay utility bills
  • Pay their mortgage or rent

Respondents said they were least likely to use the money to:

  • Shop for bargains online
  • Invest in the stock market
  • Pay student loans
  • Take a vacation

Widespread support for relief checks and further assistance

Credible’s survey found that not only do the coronavirus relief checks enjoy widespread support, but that most Americans think the government should issue another round of checks.

Although there’s support for the relief checks and another round of funding across all income groups, opposition is highest among people earning $150,000 or more a year.

Methodology: Credible commissioned SurveyMonkey Audience to carry out this survey among a representative sample of 1,206 U.S. residents 18 and older on April 7, 2020. The survey has a margin of error of less than or equal to 3 percentage points.

About Credible

Credible is a multi-lender marketplace that empowers consumers to discover financial products that are the best fit for their unique circumstances. Credible’s integrations with leading lenders and credit bureaus allow consumers to quickly compare accurate, personalized loan options ― without putting their personal information at risk or affecting their credit score. The Credible marketplace provides an unrivaled customer experience, as reflected by over 3,400 positive Trustpilot reviews and a TrustScore of 4.8/5.

About the author
Matt Carter
Matt Carter

Matt Carter is an expert on student loans. Analysis pieces he’s contributed to have been featured by CNBC, CNN Money, USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

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