NBER

Michael Stepner

Harvard University
1280 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: 617 888 3846

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Harvard University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2020How Did COVID-19 and Stabilization Policies Affect Spending and Employment? A New Real-Time Economic Tracker Based on Private Sector Data
with Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Nathaniel Hendren, The Opportunity Insights Team: w27431
We build a publicly available platform that tracks economic activity at a granular level in real time using anonymized data from private companies. We report daily statistics on consumer spending, business revenues, employment rates, and other key indicators disaggregated by county, industry, and income group. Using these data, we study the mechanisms through which COVID-19 affected the economy by analyzing heterogeneity in its impacts across geographic areas and income groups. We first show that high-income individuals reduced spending sharply in mid-March 2020, particularly in areas with high rates of COVID-19 infection and in sectors that require physical interaction. This reduction in spending greatly reduced the revenues of businesses that cater to high-income households in person, no...

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