Missouri, neighboring states feel heightened economic toll of pandemic, Fed report says

Missouri and several neighboring states have felt the economic effects of the pandemic more acutely than the U.S. as a whole, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The report focuses on the Eighth Federal Reserve District, which includes eastern and central Missouri, all of Arkansas, and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The report cites data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey for June 23 to July 5. Its primary insights were that the region is vulnerable to the delta variant of the coronavirus and unlikely to see a full economic recovery until the public health situation is improved.

Three measures that the report looked at were difficulty with expenses, food insecurity and loss of income. In the Eighth District, the rate of respondents reporting difficulty with expenses was 29.3%, compared to 27.1% nationally.

Food insecurity in the district was also higher in the region than it was nationally, with 10.8% of respondents reporting they had experienced food insecurity, compared to 9.7% nationwide.

For the final benchmark, the Eighth District performed better than the U.S. as a whole, with 15.6% of people regionally reporting lost income, compared to 18.2% nationwide.

People of color in the district were also more adversely affected by the pandemic financially, experiencing greater losses of income and higher rates of food insecurity than white people. These differences weren’t significantly different from racial economic differences on a national level, but the gap is expected to widen as the pandemic continues, according to the report.

Another factor that has severely impacted the economic well-being of district residents is the disruptions to child care caused by the pandemic. Families that had child care disruptions reported lost income at twice the rate of families that didn’t, and they were nearly twice as likely to see a greater difficulty meeting household expenses. Once again, families of color experienced these issues with higher frequency than white families.

The report concluded by highlighting the importance of the connection between economic and physical health. This comes as Missouri struggles to increase vaccination rates, with only 46% of residents being fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to state data.

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