The CARES Act stimulus package guarantees that all homeowners with a federally-backed mortgage can receive forbearance for up to one year if they struggle to meet mortgage payments because of a loss of income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, many states, cities, and counties are taking steps to minimize the impact of the coronavirus on tenants, placing moratoriums on evictions. In the meantime, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits has increased over the last five weeks as well as the number of people who need to use the provisions above because they cannot meet their mortgage payment or rent.
The National Association of Realtors® estimated how many people may struggle to pay their mortgage payment or rent because they lost their job in the last five weeks. To do so, we compared their monthly housing cost with the unemployment benefits provided by their state and federal government.
First of all, the American Community Survey provides individual records information on housing cost. Thus, we are able to estimate how much every household spends on housing. At the same time, under the CARES Act, weekly unemployment benefits consist of two parts:
- the benefit amount provided by each state1 and
- an additional $600 a week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
After adding these two types of unemployment benefits, we are able to compute the average weekly unemployment benefit for every state. Nationwide, the average weekly unemployment benefit is nearly $980; $3,910 per month. However, people typically spend 30% of their gross income on housing. Thus, if the mortgage payment or rent is higher than $1,170, these people who lost their jobs will struggle to pay their mortgage or rent.
Nationwide, while more than 26 million people lost their jobs, it is estimated that 11 million people struggle to pay their mortgage payment or rent. These people represent nearly 42% of the households across the country. At the state level, the District of Columbia, California, and Maryland had the most people with a payment or rent higher than the cost that they can cover using their unemployment benefits (30% for housing). See below, how many people are expected to struggle to pay their payment or rent in these states.
Hover over the map to see the data for all the states:
Parsing out by tenure, the National Association of Realtors estimated that 48% of the homeowners and 31% of the renters have a payment higher than the amount that they can cover using their unemployment benefits. Among 26 million people who lost their jobs in the last five weeks, this translates to 8 million homeowners and 3 million renters who cannot meet their payment and rent, respectively.
Select a state from the dropdown below to see how many homeowners and renters have a payment higher than the cost that they can cover using their unemployment benefits. For instance, in the District of Columbia, 77 percent of the homeowners have a payment higher than $1,250. While 64,155 people lost their jobs in the last five weeks, this translates to 21,000 homeowners who may struggle to pay their mortgage payment in the District of Columbia. Respectively, in California, 62 percent of the renters have a rent above $1,260. As a result, nearly 940,000 renters are expected to struggle to pay their rent on May 1st.
The good news is that it is the third week in a row in which jobless claims have declined, showing that unemployment is slowing. In addition, more small businesses are expected to benefit from the second stimulus package in an effort to keep their workers on the payroll.
1 This amount varies by state, as does the average and maximum weekly benefit.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases, every month, the average weekly unemployment benefits by state.