[Excerpt from front-page feature by Alex Putterman, February 13, 2022]
The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for Connecticut residents in the state’s poorest cities, a large statewide survey has found.
While 19% of Connecticut adults say they are worse off financially than they were two years ago, according to the survey, that number was 31% in Hartford, 29% in Bridgeport, 20% in New Haven and 28% in Waterbury.
As has been the case nationally, the past two years appear to have enriched Connecticut’s most comfortable residents while harming its most vulnerable. Among adults earning more than $100,000, 36% say they are better off financially than in February 2020, while 11% say they are worse off. Those numbers are almost exactly reversed for adults earning less than $30,000, 17% of whom report being better off financially than two years ago and 34% of whom report being worse off.
Meanwhile, 28% of adults in “urban core towns” report losing a job since February 2020 and 24% report visiting a food bank. About 20% of adults in those towns — including more than a quarter of those in Hartford — say they have difficulty paying for food, and 14% say they have difficulty paying for housing.
Adults in urban core towns were also more likely to report feeling anxious or depressed.
Statewide, Black residents and Latino residents report much higher levels of food and housing insecurity than white residents, the survey found.
The survey, conducted by the nonprofit DataHaven, included 9,139 phone interviews with randomly-selected adults in every Connecticut town. Its margin for error is 1.4%.
“The survey shows that adults in Connecticut’s urban areas endured more pandemic-related hardships than their suburban counterparts,” Mark Abraham, DataHaven’s executive director, said in a statement.
The DataHaven survey mirrors research finding that income and wealth inequality nationwide has increased during the pandemic, as those with stock portfolios have benefited from a strong market, while those with low-wage jobs have faced elevated risk of unemployment.
Lower-income Black and Latino people in Connecticut and elsewhere have also faced higher risk from COVID-19 itself, with highly disproportionate levels of cases and deaths. In the DataHaven survey, 29% of Black adults and 25% of Hispanic adults — but only 14% of white adults — reported having a friend or family member die of COVID-19.
The survey also asked residents their views on different institutions, with 51% reporting a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the federal government, 65% reporting that level of trust in state government and 72% reporting that level of trust in local government. Additionally, 86% say they trust local health care workers and 82% say they support local police and law enforcement. Those results varied across geographic and demographic lines, with white, wealthy and suburban people reporting more trust in health care workers and law enforcement than other groups.
DataHaven said this is its fifth similar survey in the past 10 years and that it is “supported by 80 public and private organizations including community foundations, municipalities, hospitals and universities.”