Many Americans aren’t confident they could manage their expenses during a recession

Jamie BallardData Journalist
April 22, 2020, 4:30 PM UTC

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the economic fallout looms, Americans may be feeling uncertain about their ability to continue paying their bills.  

Data from a survey conducted in mid-April finds that many Americans report feeling unconfident about making payments on their student loans, their mortgage, and other expenses in a recession. 

In the event that the United States experiences a recession, nearly half (46%) of those with student loan payments say they’re not confident that they would be able to make these payments. Almost three in 10 (27%) Americans with rent or mortgage obligations aren’t confident they would be able to pay for housing, while 24 percent of those with credit card payments don’t believe they could pay those bills. 


About one-third (34%) of those with other debts - like a personal loan - have low confidence that they would be able to pay down these debts in the event of a recession.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Millennials are less confident in their ability to pay some of their bills in the event of a recession.

One in three (33%) Millennials with a rent or mortgage payment isn’t sure they could manage this expense if there was a recession, while fewer members of Gen X (27%) and Baby Boomer (24%) generations express the same uncertainty. Similarly, 34 percent of Millennials are not confident they could pay their credit card bills during a recession; while only 24 percent of Gen X and 19 percent of Baby Boomers say the same.

Additional data from this survey finds that just over four in 10 (41%) US adults say they are not very or not at all prepared for a recession. But slightly more (47%) say that they are prepared for a recession. 

See full results from this survey here. 

Related: 61% see a depression coming

Methodology: Total unweighted sample size was 1,222 US adults, including 881 who have rent/mortgage payments; 905 who have credit card payments; 369 who have student loans; and 696 who have other debt. Survey was conducted online between April 15 - 16, 2020. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

Image: The Gender Spectrum Collection