Household Pulse Survey: Digging a little deeper

Valorie Rice, Senior Specialist, Business Information

A recent MAP article, Taking Our Economic Pulse, provided an overview of how Arizona households have fared during the pandemic based on the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. This article will delve deeper into the information provided in the most recent Household Pulse Survey by looking at select demographic characteristics for Arizona. The latest survey available contains data from Week 19, November 11-23.

Loss of employment income since March 2020

At some point since March 13, 2020, 46.0% of people surveyed in Arizona experienced a loss of employment income for themselves or a household member. Prime working age groups fared the worst, as the age group with the largest percentage was 25-39-year-olds, at 60.7%, followed by 40-54-year-olds at 50.4%. Figure 1 indicates that those 65 years and older underwent the fewest employment income losses at 24.4%.

Figure 1:  Loss of Employment Income by Age

There were distinct differences in the percent of persons losing employment income based on race and ethnicity as well as education. For those identifying as white alone, not Hispanic, 38.4% indicated a loss of employment income while the figure increases to 55.7% for those who are Hispanic or Latino and to 62.5% for Black alone, not Hispanic. At 74.2%, the largest group experiencing a loss of employment income were those with two or more races combined with all other races (less Asian). Asian alone, not Hispanic had a sampling error that was too large to produce an accurate number. 

The data point out how differences in education mattered for those experiencing a loss of employment income. Of those with a high school diploma or GED, 50.5% indicated a loss of employment income since March 2020. That figure went down to 46.7% for those with some college or an associate’s degree, while 38.4% of those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher experienced a loss of work income in that time.    

Work from home

Educational attainment differences were also noticeable in the percent of households with an adult who substituted some or all of their typical in-person work for telework because of the coronavirus pandemic. For those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, 53.2% indicated substituting telework for in-person work. For those with some college/associate’s degree, the share goes down to 36.8% and drops even further, to 24.4% for those with a high school degree or GED. 

Overall, 35.9% of households in Arizona had an adult who substituted some or all of their typical in-person work for telework, which was slightly lower than the U.S. figure of 36.9%. Of the households that did transition to telework, 42.3% included children under the age of 18 in Arizona.

Households with higher earnings were more likely to have a person that transitioned to working from home.  For households with incomes of $100,000 or more, over half reported a switch to telework. As shown in Figure 2, the percent of households with an adult teleworking because of the pandemic increased with the level of household income. The sampling error for household income less than $35,000 was too high to include those data.

Figure 2: Percent of Households With an Adult Teleworking by Household Income

Food Sufficiency

The percent of households with a scarcity of food for the weeks of November 11 to 23 was 11.9% in the U.S. and 12.5% in Arizona. This represents a household that reported having sometimes or often not enough to eat in the last seven days. The data are more telling when broken down by household characteristics. In households with children under 18 years old for Arizona, 19.2% reported food scarcity in the last seven days compared to 8.7% of households without children as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Percent of Households With Scarcity of Food by Household Type

Employment status plays a role in food sufficiency. Households with a member who experienced a loss in employment income reported a food scarcity of 20.6% compared to 5.7% of households with no loss of income. Respondents currently employed had 8.6% food scarcity while those not currently employed indicated 17.1% food scarcity.

Interestingly, those who signaled they were married (7.9%) or widowed (6.3%) were half as likely to experience food scarcity as those who were divorced/separated (17.4%) or never married (21.9%).

The MAP Dashboard contains several articles on food security for Tucson and Arizona. The Household Pulse Survey reports data for Arizona and Phoenix, but not Tucson. This article focused solely on the state. Data for this article come from the Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data tables.