Americans are feeling especially lonely during COVID-19

Jamie BallardData Journalist
April 01, 2021, 12:30 PM UTC

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans seemed to be struggling with loneliness. A 2019 YouGov survey found that 21% of US adults reported feeling lonely “always” or “often.” In May 2020, a few months into the pandemic, 26% said they always or often felt lonely. Now, almost a year later, where do things stand?   

The YouGov Personality Study 2021 finds that 35% of Americans say they’ve felt more lonely than usual during the pandemic. Half (50%) say there has been no significant impact, and 9% say they’ve felt less lonely than usual. 

As was the case in previous YouGov studies about loneliness, these results suggest that younger Americans are especially likely to report feeling isolated. Among those who are between the ages of 18 and 34, 45% say they’ve felt more lonely than usual during the pandemic. 

Women (40%) are more likely than men (31%) to say they’ve felt more lonely than usual during the pandemic.  

How often do Americans feel lonely?  

Half (50%) of Americans say during the pandemic they have felt lonely at least a few times a month, with about one in nine (11%) saying they feel lonely most days. Relatively few (4%) say they feel lonely all the time.  

Among 18-34 year olds, 42% say they feel lonely at least a few times a week. Fewer 35-54 year olds (28%) say the same, while only 22% of those aged 55 and above report feeling lonely at least a few times a week.  

What barriers are Americans facing when it comes to social interaction?  

Unsurprisingly, when asked what barriers they have experienced with regards to social interaction, the most common response by far is “lack of opportunity to interact with others because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” with 47%.  

About one-quarter (23%) list financial restrictions as a barrier to interactions, and 20% say distance/transport keeps them from meeting people. A similar number say that health issues (18%) and lack of confidence communicating (18%) are barriers they face.  

See full results here.  

Related: How have Americans dealt with the impact of COVID-19?

Methodology: Total sample size was 2,242 US adults 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between March 11 – 15, 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).