Life After a Pandemic: Americans Weigh in on Potential Financial Changes

With more and more states moving toward phased reopenings, how are taxpayers feeling about potential life after the pandemic — and what financial and lifestyle changes do they anticipate? That’s what a new survey from the site WalletHub aimed to answer.

One major change that the current crisis could inspire is a move to more remote work. In fact 29% of those surveyed stated that they intend to pursue a “pandemic-proof” job in the future. According to WalletHub, this extrapolates to 73.5 million Americans who may be seeking such a change. Also interesting is that 14% of respondents say they plan on moving as a result of the pandemic. This would presumably mean exiting crowded metropolises, although that was not explicitly stated in the survey data.

As for how the country can rebound from the crisis, 28% of those surveyed think that the United States should increase tax rates in order to cover costs associated with the coronavirus. However, as WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez explains, “Raising taxes, even after the pandemic passes, could diminish the benefits provided by the stimulus because many people need every dollar of aid to rebuild their lives and emergency funds. Tax increases may also disproportionately affect low-income people, especially if states raise their sales taxes.”

It also seems that the majority of Americans are pessimistic about jobs returning quickly, with 40% suggesting unemployment won’t reach pre-pandemic figures until the end of 2021, another 30% saying it won’t come until after 2022, and 8% suggesting it such levels will never be seen again. On that note, Gonzales added, “People over age 59 are most likely to think the unemployment rate will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022. Younger age groups are all more optimistic, and tend to think that unemployment will be back to normal by the end of 2021.”

Of course, a big aspect of economic recovery is consumers feeling safe to shop and travel. On that front, nearly one-quarter (23%) say they won’t feel fully comfortable to resume in-person shopping until there is a COVID-19 vaccine. Similarly 40% say they won’t be ready to fly again until a vaccine is available and 21% said the same of dining out.

Turning to geopolitical matters, 72% of respondents believed that the U.S. should reduce its reliance on Chinese imports. This statement came with the acknowledgment that such an effort would likely result in higher prices on certain items sold domestically. Meanwhile a slight majority (51%) also stated that America should refrain from outsourcing essential items such as masks and medicines.

Although some states and cities are inching closer to fully reopening, it’s clear that the current crisis is nowhere near over. Therefore it’s impossible to make predictions about what’s ahead or how long the direct impacts of the pandemic will last. Nevertheless it is interesting to hear how some Americans plan to adapt to our post-pandemic world, including what personal and economic changes they foresee — but only time will tell if these predictions and intentions come to fruition.

Lucky for those who have options to work from home, though we’re slowly re opening, it will never be the same again at least for some time.

What this pandemic has taught me is how to be frugal and save for the future because we may never know what will happen tomorrow.

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Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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