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The Stay-at-Home Labor Market: Google Searches, Unemployment Insurance, and Public Health Orders

This article looks at the relationships between internet searches for unemployment-related terms, unemployment insurance (UI), and the public health orders issued in the U.S. during the Covid-19 pandemic. We find that Google searches for unemployment-related subjects surged before the record increase in initial UI claims, which in turn peaked before the public health orders were implemented. As of mid-April 2020, these orders covered the vast majority of the U.S. population. Since then, the rates of increase in both search activity and initial UI claims have slowed.
Chicago Fed Letter , Issue 436

What is Business Interruption Insurance and How is it Related to the Covid-19 Pandemic?

After nonessential businesses shut down their operations to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus in March 2020, many business owners looked to their property insurance policies for relief. Such policies often include business interruption (BI) insurance, which covers income losses if a business is forced to close. Given the shelter-in-place orders issued by state and local governments, BI coverage was assumed by many to apply. For example, Greg Wells, the chief executive of Atlantic Coast Athletic Clubs (ACAC), told the Washington Post: “That’s what you have this type of insurance for. ...
Chicago Fed Letter , Issue 440 , Pages 5

Potential Jobs Impacted by Covid-19

In this blog, we conduct an exercise to determine the potential consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on near-term labor market outcomes. This is not a forecast, but an attempt to provide some discipline around potential bounds of the number of jobs impacted by the crisis. We estimate that between nine and 26 million jobs are potentially affected,1 with a best guess of around 15 million. If these jobs are lost, the June unemployment rate could reach between 14% and 18%, with a best guess of around 15%.
Midwest Economy Blog

Financial Positions of U.S. Public Corporations: Part 1, Before the Pandemic

This blog is the first in a series that will discuss how the current pandemic affects the financial positions of publicly traded U.S. corporations, the potential implications of these financial developments, and the federal policy response. This first blog discusses the financial positions before the pandemic started. We document three facts: (1) the share of nonfinancial public companies with large amounts of leverage was elevated, suggesting financial fragility; however, (2) interest expenses were small for most firms due to the low level of interest rates; and (3) most firms had ...
Chicago Fed Insights

Working Paper
Modeling to Inform Economy-Wide Pandemic Policy: Bringing Epidemiologists and Economists Together

Facing unprecedented uncertainty and drastic trade-offs between public health and other forms of human well-being, policymakers during the Covid-19 pandemic have sought the guidance of epidemiologists and economists. Unfortunately, while both groups of scientists use many of the same basic mathematical tools, the models they develop to inform policy tend to rely on different sets of assumptions and, thus, often lead to different policy conclusions. This divergence in policy recommendations can lead to uncertainty and confusion, opening the door to disinformation, distrust of institutions, and ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2021-26

Is the Unemployment Rate a Good Measure of People Currently Out of Work?

Update, May 15, 2020: Following the release of the latest Current Population Survey estimates and related micro data, we are able to calculate the actual value of our U-Cov rate for April, which was 30.7% (not seasonally adjusted). This was over a 17 percentage point increase from March, significantly higher than the 10 percentage point increase in the official “U3” unemployment rate (to 14.4% in April). A 4.8 million increase in the number of people working part-time for economic reasons, a 4.3 million increase in those on unpaid leave, and a 4.5 million increase in those out of the ...
Chicago Fed Insights

A Closer Look at the Correlation Between Google Trends and Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims

Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been growing interest in tracking labor market activity with “big data” sources like Google Trends.1 Just as an example, one can track how the number of Google searches with the term unemployment office has changed over the past week for the Chicago metro area or explore how unemployment became one of the top searched issues across the U.S. during the early months of the pandemic here.
Chicago Fed Insights

Home Mortgage Lending by Race and Income in a Time of Low Interest Rates: Examples from Select Counties in Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania from 2018 through 2021

Signed into law in 1975 by President Ford, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) requires most financial institutions to disclose information on their mortgage lending. Annually, this information creates a publicly accessible data set that includes millions of records and covers about 90 percent of mortgage lending in the United States (Gerardi, Willen, and Zhang, 2020). More information on HMDA can be found in this summary: What is HMDA and why is it important?Several years ago, the Cleveland Fed examined data for seven large urban counties in the Fourth District.1 At that time, we looked ...
Community Development Publications

Working Paper
Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior

We link the county-level rollout of stay-at-home orders to anonymized cellphone records and consumer spending data. We document three patterns. First, stay-at-home orders caused people to stay at home: county-level measures of mobility declined by between 9% and 13% by the day after the stay-at-home order went into effect. Second, stay-at-home orders caused large reductions in spending in sectors associated with mobility: restaurants and retail stores. However, food delivery sharply increased after orders went into effect. Third, there is substantial county-level heterogeneity in consumer ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-12

Interest-Only Mortgages and Speculation in Hot Housing Markets

Even as housing markets have temporarily shut down across the U.S. during the Covid-19 pandemic, housing remains a key sector that contributes disproportionately to fluctuations in overall economic activity and that will likely play an important role as the economy reopens. Interest in this market among research economists and policymakers intensified after the exceptional boom and bust in housing between 2003 and 2008. In this Chicago Fed Letter, we describe research in Barlevy and Fisher (2020)1 that examined patterns in the kinds of mortgages homebuyers took out in different cities during ...
Chicago Fed Letter , Issue 439 , Pages 6


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