Laid off workers experience greater stress than others due to coronavirus outbreak

Americans who have been laid off or furloughed have trouble accessing unemployment benefits that are critical to avoiding financial difficulties

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, May 6, 2020 – A new Washington Post-Ipsos poll finds that many Americans who have been laid off or furloughed (13% of adult pop) have run into challenges accessing unemployment benefits. Additionally, these people express greater stress as a result of the outbreak.


Detailed Findings


  1. Forty-three percent of those who have been laid off or furloughed describe the coronavirus outbreak as a serious source of stress in their lives, compared to 31% of all Americans.
  2. Sixty percent of laid off workers tried to apply for unemployment benefits since March 1st, but only 28% have received benefits.
  3. The main reason for failure to receive benefits was due to technical issues (40%), including busy phone lines, getting disconnected, and website malfunction.
  4. Forty-five percent of laid off workers say that their family could last no more than two months in their current situation before being in real financial trouble.

The Washington Post story can be found here


About the Study

This poll was jointly sponsored and funded by The Washington Post and Ipsos. The poll is a random sample of adults in the United States. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

This questionnaire was administered with the exact questions in the exact order as they appear in this document. Demographic questions are not shown. If a question was asked of a reduced base of the sample, a parenthetical preceding the question identifies the group asked. Phrases surrounded by parentheticals within questions indicate clauses that were randomly rotated for respondents.

Ipsos conducted sampling, interviewing, and tabulation for the survey using the KnowledgePanel, a representative panel of adults age 18 and over living in the United States. KnowledgePanel members are recruited through probability sampling methods using address-based sampling. Panel members who do not have internet access are provided with a netbook and internet service.

This survey uses statistical weighting procedures to account for deviations in the survey sample from known population characteristics, which helps correct for differential survey participation and random variation in samples. The overall sample was weighted to match the demographic makeup of general population adults age 18 or older by sex, region, age, race/ethnicity, education, household income, and language proficiency according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and to residence in a metropolitan area according to the Current Population Survey.

The margin of sampling error including the design effect for the full sample is plus or minus one percentage point. The error margin is 3.5 among the sample of 928 people who were laid off. For results based on other subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher. Note that sampling error is only one of many potential sources of error in this or any other public opinion poll.

All error margins have been adjusted to account for the survey’s design effect, which is 1.2 for this survey. The design effect is a factor representing the survey’s deviation from a simple random sample and takes into account decreases in precision due to sample design and weighting procedures. Surveys that do not incorporate a design effect overstate their precision. 


For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Senior Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected]    


About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP


The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs