This week, as New York City cancelled all public events in June, the uncertainty of what the months ahead will look like became even clearer. In the seventh installment of our weekly poll about how the coronavirus pandemic is changing the lives of New York readers, we asked how the current turmoil has affected their ability to make plans for the future – if they’re able to make plans at all. Here’s how 743 of them responded. (Note: Graphs show week-over-week responses, all other results are from week seven only.)
How would you describe your emotional state right now?
Very anxious and/or scared: 14%
Somewhat anxious and/or scared: 42%
Slightly concerned: 9%
Totally fine: 4%
Do you, or anyone in your household, fear that your work puts you at significant risk of contracting the virus?
How often are you leaving your home?
Not at all: 12%
Just for essential errands: 79%
I still have to leave for work, but am not making many other trips: 8%
I’m living my life as normal: 1%
Has your employer reduced your pay since the outbreak began?
Not applicable: 25%
If your employer has reduced your pay, how much of a pay cut did you receive?
Less than 5%: 6%
More than 20%: 60.5%
Have you lost work or had your hours reduced since the outbreak began?
Not applicable: 17%
If you’ve lost work, have you applied for unemployment?
I’ve applied successfully: 27%
I’m trying to apply but can’t get through (site crashing/phone lines busy): 16%
I’ve haven’t applied because I’m not sure if I’m eligible: 25%
I haven’t applied for other reasons: 32%
Has anyone in your household applied for unemployment?
They’re trying to apply but can’t get through (site crashing/phone lines busy): 12%
How has the pandemic affected your plans for the future?
“I feel stuck – can’t make any plans at all. No vacations, no political activity (I’m into volunteering), no work on our house (including prepping for a possible move), no job search, both kids will be going to new schools in the fall … everything is in flux and yet I’m stuck.”
“I was interviewing and planning to move out of state – that is on hold indefinitely. I also just started a long distance relationship and now we’re reenacting an 18th-century epistolary novel over text.”
“I was intending to move from the U.S. to Panama in mid-March. My boyfriend and I left our jobs, gave up health insurance and apartments, sold our cars, furniture, and most possessions. We procured the many documents and certifications needed, including the certifications so we could take the cats. The cat requirements took three different vet appointments with two different vets and an embassy trip, cost over a thousand dollars, and was only valid for ten days (now past). One of the reasons we chose Panama was the affordable healthcare and lower cost of living. And here we are, in a temporary place in the Pocono Mountains, with no income, and nothing but time.”
“I met up with a long-lost love after 40 years of separation and we planned to marry. We are now both in confinement, 1400 km apart, with questionable prospects in sight. It would be so sad not to see our dreams come true.”
“We were going to move in Brooklyn and begin to try to start a family – I can’t in good faith bring a child into this world with this going on. I might feel different if I lived in Canada or somewhere else with competent leaders, but not here in the U.S.”
“I just graduated college, I’m anxious I’m now stuck in this constant job search, and that I’ll be stuck living at home for the rest of my life. I was planning to move out as soon as I got a job, but now I’m stuck with my parents. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to save up, and even then if I’ll be safe to move into a city from my hometown.”
“We were supposed to get married next year. Our plans for that are suddenly postponed. Someone in my family passed away not related to coronavirus, but funeral plans and the grieving process have been extremely difficult. Wanting to be with my family during this but [being] unable to is unbearable. I’m at a point where I have no idea how to responsibly plan for the future.”
“I was supposed to apply for a surgery residency program, but I heard hospitals aren’t opening their programs this year due to lack of cases for requirements for promotion of their current resident physicians, because hospitals have converted their facilities to cater to COVID patients. So I might be delayed for another year in my career which worries me a lot.”
“My boyfriend lives in the UK and we were going to move in together in June. We’d been planning it for the past year, I was going to quit my job and move to Bristol to write my next novel. The last time I saw him was in January for New Year’s. Our trip to Greece for his birthday this past week was cancelled. Now I have no idea when I’m going to see him again.”
“I’m an American expat who, after receiving a 40% pay cut six weeks ago, was then laid off four weeks ago. (I was an editor on a travel magazine, so no huge surprise, all things considered.) Looking for a new job in Dubai, a place that is in total lockdown (just eased as of today, but still very restricted) is very tough — I’m coming up with almost nothing. The thought of having to return to the U.S.A. because I can’t find new employment here is even scarier though, as it’s a country that won’t take care of me—I won’t be eligible for unemployment or health insurance, among the many other issues that repatriating after being an expat for 12 years entails. I have no idea what my future is anymore.”
“I’m concerned about the future of work and my livelihood (on top of everything else, like my health and the safety/health of my parents/family). I’m furloughed and not confident I’ll be brought back on staff. So I’ve applied for unemployment (still pending) and I’m looking for a new job – but will I be able to find one AND make the career pivot I was planning on before the pandemic? Do I take any job I’m qualified for because I need the work and security? Are there even places hiring for my skill set right now? Many unknowns. Plus, I’m single and navigating everything on my own. The weight of it all is crushing at times.”
“Most of the people I know here (myself included) are self employed in creative fields (acting, musicians, hair and makeup artists, stylists, production) with a side job in hospitality. Moving forward, those jobs definitely won’t be as affluent and I’m worried I won’t be able to afford living here any longer or having to find a new career path. Basically, I feel like everything I worked for is no longer applicable and I have a clean slate that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”
“The pandemic has made it almost impossible to gauge what the next step in my career should be. With Trump locking down immigration even further, it’s going to make my life (as an immigrant) that much harder, especially if a full-time job actually opens up. I’m constantly afraid, frequently anxious, and my productivity is almost nothing, especially after a long day of crisis schooling kids. Maybe the world will be better on the other side, but I don’t think it will be. Living in America during the pandemic has been an exercise in finding the balance between sticking my head in the sand and angrily engaging.”
“It’s hard to imagine being pregnant or giving birth during the pandemic with limited doctor access and little available support from family, friends, or others. As we have no idea how long this will go on … planning a family feels like it is on indefinite hold.”
“We have two kids under four. School is cancelled. Summer is cancelled. My husband’s mom is dying from cancer and we can’t visit. We can’t travel with friends this summer as we usually do. Sometimes it feels like there is no future.”
“We are supposed to move from our rural small town to NYC this summer for my husband’s work. We still don’t know what we will decide to do, but have listed our house for rent and we are INUNDATED with emails from New Yorkers who want to rent it to escape the pandemic. So moving in the reverse direction, toward the epicenter seems … kind of crazy? But we may not have a choice.”
“I am on maternity leave and may not have a job to return to. The future is uncertain. We have reduced our loan payments and started to cut spending. We are pushing off plans for home renovations. We’ve started writing our wills. It’s all a bit uncertain. We are behaving as if we are a one income household and could lose that.”
“My partner of three years is here on a work visa, and he was unfortunately let go from his job. (He worked at a large tech company, and his entire team was laid off.) He can only stay in the country for 60 days past his termination date, unless he finds a new job at a company that’s willing to sponsor him. He’s looking for jobs and has actually had quite a few interviews. But even if he does get an offer, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, which handles work visas, is currently closed. Before this, we both had jobs that we loved (as of now, I still do), and we had no plans to leave New York anytime soon. Plus, I’m from here. But now everything is up in the air. Does he return to his home country for now and hope to come back to NYC in a few months? Do I move to his home country? Do we get married for a visa (kidding … kinda)? Basically, the pandemic has taken any plans I had for the future and flipped them upside down.”
“My husband and I are certainly anxious about the status of our jobs in the coming weeks and months. But the biggest shift has been where we want to live. We love living in New York, but the extended quarantine has done a good job of highlighting the extent to which we’re homebodies. Aside from not commuting, our nights and weekends don’t look all that different from the way they did pre-quarantine. Which makes us wonder why we’re paying such a premium to live in an environment that we’re not taking advantage of. It’s made us strongly consider leaving the city for a house somewhere upstate or farther out when this is all over.”
“We don’t have any right now. It’s all just a game of wait and see. We’re both British and living in Brooklyn, so we’ve had to make peace with not seeing any family for at least the rest of this year. We’re lucky our work is online based and we can do it from home, but it feels like no one’s future is secured. It’s making me think about death all the time. Not in a hysterical way, just in that I know that no one I love is really safe. I’m glad we have a dog. I miss bookshops. My dreams are insane.”