Innovations in Measuring the Economic Impacts of COVID 19
Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM (EST)
- Chair: Matthew Shapiro, University of Michigan
Maintaining and Enhancing Labor Statistics during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
AbstractThe U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics continued to produce key employment, price, and related statistics while re-engineering operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having a staff that was almost entirely telework ready and having frequently tested operations from remote locations provided a leg-up for the lengthy period when the entire staff across the country worked from home. Data collection operations had to be changed overnight. In some cases, in-person collection was transitioned to remote and electronic means. In other cases, contractors had to be outfitted with remote access, deadlines had to be adjusted, and flexibilities had to be implemented to get the job done, all while maintaining confidentiality and data quality. Response rates declined, resulted in some changes to estimation and publication plans. Opportunities arose, such as collection of new information from both households and businesses on changes that resulted from the pandemic. This is a story that continues to unfold, and will change the way that BLS does business going forward. This session will focus on both changes in BLS operations and changes in the economy as reflected in BLS data.
An Early Read of the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the U.S. Economy using Card Transaction Data
AbstractWe evaluate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer spending using daily card transaction data. Overall, we find large effects of this pandemic on sectors such as accommodations and restaurants, which by the second week of March, show declines of around 80 percent and 70 percent, respectively. However, these declines were partly offset by the large 100 percent immediate increase in food and beverage store sales. For select goods and services in our data, we find an aggregate decline in spending of around 13.7 percent for March, and we estimate an aggregate “pandemic effect”—the effect of the pandemic on consumer spending after mitigation measures have had time to take hold—of around –27.8 percent. Based on the methodology discussed in this paper, BEA currently provides weekly and monthly estimates (as well as daily charts) approximately every two weeks, while continuing to revise its process with the goal of improving the timeliness of these updates.
High Frequency Data and a Weekly Economic Index During the Pandemic
AbstractWe develop a Weekly Economic Index (WEI) that measures real economic activity at a weekly frequency. In times of rapidly evolving economic conditions, such as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WEI provides a timely signal of changes in real activity from week to week. Such high frequency variation is often obscured in traditional macroeconomic measures which smooth it out by reporting monthly or quarterly averages. The WEI is also available with a relatively short delay, with an initial estimate the Tuesday of the following week, while standard monthly releases are often available only several weeks following the end of the month. The measure of activity provided by the WEI traces lower frequency macroeconomic aggregates well historically, and exhibits strong predictive power for series including GDP growth, industrial production, and employment.
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
- C8 - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
- E3 - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles