According to the U.S. Labor Department, another 2.1 million unemployment claims were filed last week, bringing the total to more than 40 million. This means that 1 in 4 Americans is unemployed right now due to the pandemic’s sweeping impact on jobs. 

In the CivicScience-HPS Economic Sentiment Index’s latest reading published May 27, the overall ESI –which measures multiple indicators of consumer confidence–hasn’t budged. Though the latest reading observed further growth in consumer confidence making major purchases, buying a new home, and evaluating future personal financial situations, confidence in finding a new job over the next six months hit a historic low of 28%.

During the latest ESI reporting period (May 13-26) we also looked at the most recent COVID-19 job impact numbers.

The data show that 32% of Americans who were employed pre-pandemic have experienced a cut in their earnings (14%) or lost their job altogether (18%).

Interestingly, an individual’s personal work situation drives their comfortability in returning to shopping in a retail store (other than for groceries). Those still working as usual (but not remotely) are hugely the most likely to be comfortable venturing out now or within a couple of weeks than say, those who are working from home or those who lost their job.

When it comes to comfort returning to the workplace, it is varied.

Of course, those who are still going to a destination outside their home for their job are the most likely to feel comfortable doing it. The majority of remote workers however aren’t keen on returning to the office any time soon (though 41% are ready to do so now). Those not working at all are the most likely to report wanting to wait six months or more before returning to work

And it’s no wonder that new job concerns reached a new low in the ESI; those who are still working as usual are nearly just as likely as those who have lost their job to be concerned about jobs right now. Remote workers are the most concerned, actually.

Also quite telling is across all categories of COVID-19 job impact there are similar percentages of respective groups who think the new job market will only get worse.

There seems to be no end in sight for job loss and the future feels very unclear to the American worker. It’s telling that even people who still have work are showing grave concern about what their future career will or won’t bring.