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 ...
Predicting the Unemployment Rate in a Time of Coronavirus
Economists forecast the unemployment rate all the time. Usually, though, they use data over the previous months and quarters to forecast the unemployment rate out several years. Since the relationships between the unemployment rate and things like GDP growth and employment are mostly stable over time, and since month-to-month movements in the unemployment rate are usually small, these forecasts usually work well.
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.
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 ...
Financial Positions of U.S. Public Corporations: Part 3, Projecting Liquidity and Solvency Risks
This blog post is the third in a series that discusses 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.In this post, we attempt to quantify the risk to the solvency and to the liquidity of U.S. public corporations, and how this risk can be reduced or eliminated by firms’ decisions. These calculations should be taken as illustrative only, given the high uncertainty about the evolution of the economy; they do not constitute a forecast, and reflect only the ...
Potential Jobs Impacted by Covid-19: An Update
This blog post updates our earlier analysis of the potential jobs impacted by Covid-19. The update reflects three adjustments to the original analysis. First, we updated our guesses on the shares of each industry employed and working at still-operating businesses based on the Labor Department’s March Employment Situation report. Second, we use an updated model to estimate the possible June unemployment rates from initial unemployment insurance claims data (the model details are found here. Finally, we use unemployment rate predictions that incorporate the data from the April 2 report on ...
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%.
What Can Revisions to the NFCI Tell Us About Stock Market Volatility?
In this blog post, we document that recent revisions to the Chicago Fed’s National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) have been large and clustered in time—a pattern not seen since the 2007–09 global financial crisis. As financial conditions tightened early on during the Covid-19 outbreak here in the U.S., there were large positive revisions to the NFCI through much of March. We show that revisions of this magnitude and in this direction have often preceded substantial increases in stock market volatility. More recently, in late March and April, the large negative revisions to the NFCI ...
Financial Positions of U.S. Public Corporations: Part 5, The Main Street Lending Program: Potential Benefits and Costs
This blog post is the fifth in a series that discusses 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. In this post, we study the economic benefits and costs of the Main Street Lending Program, created by the Federal Reserve to support corporations during this crisis. We make four points, which reflect our analysis and are not the views of the Federal Reserve System or the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. First, the main potential benefit of this program ...
Financial Positions of U.S. Public Corporations: Part 2, The Covid-19 Earnings Shock
This blog is the second in a series that discusses 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. The first blog discussed the financial positions before the pandemic started. It documented that many nonfinancial publicly traded companies entered 2020 with historically elevated levels of leverage. This second blog explains how we use stock returns to project the potential earnings losses due to Covid-19; this will be used in our next blog to project the ...