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Friday, October 30, 2020

Real Personal Income less Transfer Payments

by Calculated Risk on 10/30/2020 09:41:00 AM

Government transfer payments were mostly unchanged in September compared to August, but were still almost $1 trillion (on SAAR basis) above the February level.  Most of the increase in transfer payments - compared to the level prior to the crisis - is from unemployment insurance and "other" (CARES ACT). 

There was a sharp decline in unemployment insurance in both August and September.

This table shows the amount of unemployment insurance and "Other" transfer payments since February 2020 (pre-crisis level).  The increase in "Other" was mostly due to other parts of the CARES Act such as the $1,200 one time payment.

Selected Transfer Payments
Billions of dollars, SAAR

A key measure of the health of the economy (Used by NBER in recession dating) is Real Personal Income less Transfer payments.

Real Personal Income less Transfer payments Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows real personal income less transfer payments since 1990.

This measure of economic activity increased 0.7% in September, compared to August, and was down 2.2% compared to February 2020 (previous peak).

Recession Measure IncomeAnother way to look at this data is as a percent of the previous peak.

Real personal income less transfer payments was off 8.3% in April. This was a larger decline than the worst of the great recession.

Currently personal income less transfer payments are still off 2.2% (dashed line).