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Search Trends Reveal Americans’ Finance Questions Triggered by the Pandemic

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There’s no question that the coronavirus pandemic has catapulted people into rethinking how they manage their finances. Even those who have kept a consistent stream of income are considering how to build more robust savings with the uncertainty of what the future holds. 

A recent study dove into the details around what Americans began searching for as a result of the pandemic — and results were eye opening. 

Key takeaways: 

  • The need for free groceries is up with the search term “emergency food stamps” searched 130% more MOM (month-on month). 
  • Americans are in pursuit of financial literacy with “online finance courses” up by 200% MOM. 
  • Americans want to know where to invest, specifically looking into oil with “best way to invest in oil” up by 4,750%. 

Let’s take a deeper look into what the study revealed about the mindset of Americans. 

Americans Show Interest – Food Banks Experience Demands

Lines at food banks are experiencing historic demands. In fact, cars are lining up for miles to get basic essentials in the wake of the pandemic. 

The search study reflected that demand, with Americans searching for food banks and how to apply for food stamps all around the country. The top search terms the study found include: 

  • Emergency Food Stamps: up by 130%
  • How to Apply for Food Stamps: up by 50%
  • Food Banks Near Me: up by 50% 
  • Apply for Food Stamps: up by 50%
  • Food Pantry Near Me: up by 40%

Feeding America, a network of food banks, says that it projects a $1.4 billion shortfall in the next six months. This number alone shows how much the coronavirus has impacted Americans’ ability to afford a basic necessity. 

Americans in Pursuit of Financial Literacy – More Than Ever

Finance courses and information has been widely available for years — online learning is nothing new. However, the financial impact of the coronavirus has pushed Americans to want to learn more about how to manage money. 

The study found that the demand for online courses related to money is up by 200%: 

  • Online Finance Courses: up by 200%
  • Foundational Finance: up by 170%

As people have learned to accept the new normal — staying socially distant, spending more time at home and entertaining yourselves — millions have turned to the internet to learn. Not only are fitness and cooking courses available online, but there are a wealth of opportunities to learn more about how to land a job, how to manage finances and how to start a business. 

The CEO of Skillcrush, Adda Birbir, said that she’s seen an uptick in interest in online learning since the crisis hit, particularly from those who were working in the hospitality industry or the performing arts. And, that trend is growing. With unemployment rising, people are looking to learn new skills that can help them in their life and career. 

Interest in Investing Up – Oil a Hot Topic

Similar to the interest in online learning, searchers are interested in learning more about the stock market. While there are thousands of more Americans searching terms like “best stocks to buy during this downturn,” which was up by 800%, the most interest was in oil. The study shared these as the highest trending topics:

  • Best Way to Invest in Oil: up by 4,750% 
  • Should I Invest in Oil: up by 500% 
  • How to Invest in Oil: up by 400% 
  • Oil Stocks to Invest In: up by 400% 
  • Oil Stocks: up by 400% 
  • Invest in Oil: up by 300% 
  • Oil Companies to Invest In: up by 300% 
  • How to Invest in Oil Futures: up by 300% 
  • How to Invest in Oil Stocks: up by 250% 

They further investigated which states are most interested in investing in oil and the top five are: 

  1. Texas
  2. Colorado
  3. Florida
  4. Wyoming
  5. North Dakota and Alaska (tied)

With oil prices down by more than 80% since the start of the year, it’s no wonder why Americans are interested in the oil category specifically. 

However some experts are saying that there is too much volatility and risk in investing in oil right now. One thing for sure is that we’ll find out what this surge of interest in oil means for those who invested in it in 2021. 

Overall, the study on what Americans are searching for during the pandemic tells us that people are more interested than ever on how to save, manage and make money. 

About the author


Sarah Archer

Sarah is a writer at Money Crashers who covers money management tips and the financial impact of the pandemic. When she’s not investigating personal finance strategies, you’ll most likely find her outdoors hiking, biking or running.