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April 13, 2020, 3:30 p.m. EDT

More older Americans and Republicans say their finances are safe from coronavirus

Almost half of Republicans say COVID-19 is not a major financial threat, according to a new Pew Research Center survey

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By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch

MarketWatch/Terrence Horan
Jobless claims soared again in early April as coronavirus layoffs swell to nearly 17 million.

Jobless claims soared again in early April as coronavirus layoffs swell to 16.8 million, according to the latest data released last week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate has likely shot above 10%, economists say, and will get worse before it gets better.

The debate over the ramifications of a months-long shutdown of the American economy in an effort to force people to “socially distance” — and, thus, prevent coronavirus from spreading unchecked — also highlights the chasm between left and right on the American political spectrum.

“Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to say that the coronavirus outbreak is a major threat to both their personal health and financial situation,” Bradley Jones, a research associate at Pew Research Center, wrote in a recent report .

Some 29% of Democrats say that COVID-19 is a major threat to their own health and their finances, compared with 19% of Republicans, according to Pew data. Almost half of Republicans (47%) say it’s not a major threat to either, while only just over one-third (35%) of Democrats feel the same way.

President Trump, a Republican, has warned that efforts to stem the rapid spread of the COVID-19 disease are spiraling the U.S. economy into another Great Recession. However, despite comments that he might reopen the economy by Easter, Trump took the advice of health professionals.

Those leaning to the left of the political spectrum generally believe that strong social structures beget a stronger economy for all. The right traditionally follows the idea that a strong economic system begets strong social structures for all.

Some 10,056 of the 22,935 U.S. fatalities were in New York State, as of Monday; almost 7,000 of those deaths were in New York City. Nearly 189,000 of the 568,176 confirmed cases in the U.S. were in New York State.

Dispatches from a pandemic: Letter from New York: ‘When I hear an ambulance, I wonder if there’s a coronavirus patient inside. Are there more 911 calls, or do I notice every distant siren? I love my adopted city, and I’m not going anywhere. I will ride this out’

Black and Latino New Yorkers are twice as likely to die as Asian or Caucasian people in New York City. There are currently 1,897,373 confirmed cases worldwide, and 118,304 deaths, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

The savings of millions of people, meanwhile, are at risk of running out. A quarter of U.S. adults say the coronavirus pandemic is a major threat to both their health and their finances, found the survey released this week by Pew, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

The poll of 11,537 U.S. adults, conducted between March 19 and 24, found that significantly more people in their 30s through 50s say COVID-19 is a major threat to their finances but not to their health than those reporting the opposite.

Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch's personal-finance editor and The Moneyist columnist for MarketWatch. You can follow him on Twitter @quantanamo.

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