Saturday, February 27, 2021

Real Personal Income less Transfer Payments

by Calculated Risk on 2/27/2021 11:45:00 AM

Government transfer payments increased sharply in January compared to December, and were $2.5 trillion (on SAAR basis) above the February 2020 level.  Most of the increase in transfer payments - compared to the level prior to the crisis - is from unemployment insurance and "other" (includes direct payments). 

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 relief acts (including direct payments).

Selected Transfer Payments
Billions of dollars, SAAR
OtherUnemployment
Insurance
Feb-20$506$28
Mar-20$515$74
Apr-20$3,379$493
May-20$1,360$1,356
Jun-20$758$1,405
Jul-20$760$1,331
Aug-20$692$636
Sep-20$936$359
Oct-20$731$305
Nov-20$619$281
Dec-20$655$308
Jan-21$2,337$571

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 decreased 0.5% in January, compared to December, and was down 2.8% 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 8.1% in April. This was a larger decline than the worst of the great recession.

Currently personal income less transfer payments are still off 2.8% (dashed line).