New Survey Helps Local Gov Understand COVID’s Economic Impact on Residents

Polco develops a new household economic impact survey to help local governments understand COVID-19’s financial impact on residents. By Brian Smith

COVID-19 has had massive impacts on the economy and the personal finances of residents around the nation.


While local governments don’t have much control over the household financial impacts caused by recessions, the economy plays a pivotal role in community livability, said Michelle Kobayashi, Polco’s Sr. Vice President of Innovation. It’s important for local governments to understand those impacts.


“A lot of economic issues are out of the purview of local governments per say but if local governments are seeing that people are having a lot of similar problems, they may be able to work with other intergovernmental agencies, non-profits, school districts to help minimize the burden,” Kobayashi said.

New Survey Seeks Insight into Household Impacts

Polco has developed the COVID-19 Household Economic Impact Survey to help local governments understand and mitigate financial impacts on residents from the pandemic. The survey is free to launch on Polco.  It asks about a number of economic issues, including whether residents are struggling with jobs, food or housing security.


Data from prior Polco surveys indicate that more residents have been hit harder by COVID-19’s economic and mental aspects than by its physical effects. Local governments now find themselves in the precarious situation of trying to balance the physical, emotional, mental and financial impacts of the pandemic on residents, Kobayashi said.


“The balancing of the economic impacts with the health impacts is a really hard choice that all governments are making,” she said. “So better understanding the impacts of this pandemic on households is one of the key metrics they should monitor.”

How the Economy Affects Community Livability

Data from The National Community Survey (The NCS) reveals that the local economy is very important in terms of what makes a community livable.


“Almost all residents rate their local economy as essential or very important when asked to rate the importance of the key facets of community livability,” said Damema Mann, Director of National Engagement for Polco. “It's critical for local governments to be able to gain a deeper understanding of what aspects of their economies are working, and what aspects are lacking so that they can take action. It's more important now, than ever, to get this valuable feedback from residents as communities work to recover from the impacts of COVID 19.”


Learn about the impacts of COVID-19 on households in your community

Read the rest of this month's issue of the Pulse here, featuring a case study on community engagement in Oshkosh, WI, and surveys on community equity & inclusion.