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Future Output Loss from COVID-Induced School Closures
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive disruptions to the U.S. educational system. Research on school closures—particularly combined with parental income loss—implies that children are likely to attain lower levels of lifetime education compared with pre-pandemic trends. Projections show learning disruptions could lower the level of annual economic output ¼ percentage point on average over the next 70 years. The effect is small the first 5–10 years then peaks at a loss of ½ percentage point in about 25 years, when the children reach prime working age.
Temporary Layoffs and Unemployment in the Pandemic
Temporary layoffs accounted for essentially the entire increase in unemployment to its historically high rate in April 2020. Although the rate has come down since its peak, unemployment remains well above pre-pandemic levels. There is little evidence that temporary layoffs are becoming permanent at a higher rate than in the past. However, the continuation of the health and economic crisis poses a risk that a growing share of unemployment will consist of people in persistent categories of joblessness, thereby slowing the overall recovery.
Disruptions to Starting a Business during COVID-19
Applications to start new businesses tanked from mid-March through May, contracting more severely than during the 2008–2009 financial crisis. Since then, however, applications have recovered so strongly that the total number filed in 2020 should be similar to that for 2019, even if applications growth reverts to the average lows experienced during the early days of the pandemic. This should result in only a modest loss of new businesses and is not likely to cause much additional strain on overall jobs and productivity gains.
Why Is Unemployment Currently So Low?
Unemployment is at a 50-year low. The low rate is not from an unusually high job-finding rate out of unemployment but, rather, an unusually low rate at which people enter unemployment. The low entry rate reflects a long-run downward trend likely due to population aging, better job matches, and other structural factors. These developments lowered the long-run unemployment rate trend. At the end of 2019, the unemployment rate was below the trend but no more so than in previous business cycle peaks, indicating that the labor market is no tighter.
Labor Productivity in a Pandemic
U.S. labor productivity has grown quickly during the pandemic compared with the past decade. However, this rapid pace is unlikely to be sustained. Similar to the Great Recession, the primary reasons for strong productivity growth now are cyclical effects that are likely to unwind as the economy continues to recover. For example, the number of workers has fallen, so capital per worker has risen—raising labor productivity in the short term. What effect the pandemic itself might have on productivity remains uncertain.
Passing Along Housing Wealth from Parents to Children
Young adults are more likely to own a home if their parents are homeowners than if their parents are renters. New research reveals how parents owning a home can lead to an increase in the persistence in homeownership across generations. Specifically, homeowner parents are often able to extract the equity value from their home to help their children purchase a home. This “dynastic” home equity enables children of homeowner parents who extract equity to accumulate approximately one third more housing wealth by age 30 than children of renters.