The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the United States with a set of unique public health and economic challenges. Economically, the crisis has negatively affected businesses, the labor market, and households. In this set of 10 facts, Wendy Edelberg, Kristen Broady, Lauren Bauer, and Jimmy O’Donnell assess the extent of these economic damages and provide an overview of existing policy interventions.
The COVID-19 pandemic poses an existential threat to small businesses, with more than 400,000 lost since the crisis began. Many small businesses are financially fragile and not equipped to weather a prolonged period of substantially reduced revenues. In this proposal, Steven Hamilton of The George Washington University calls for a significant expansion of refundable tax credits to help support small businesses through this crisis.
In this blog post, Lauren Bauer, Abigail Pitts, Krista Ruffini, and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach find that Pandemic EBT reduced food hardship experienced by low-income families with children and lifted at least 2.7-3.9 million children out of hunger.
Slowdowns in the economy are inevitable. While it may be tempting to rely on Federal Reserve policy as a lone response to recessions, this would be a mistake; we know that fiscal stimulus is effective. Rather than wait for a crisis to strike before designing discretionary fiscal policy, we would be better served by preparing in advance. Enacting evidence-based automatic stabilizer proposals before the next recession will help the next recovery start faster, make job creation stronger, and restore confidence to businesses and households.
Consumer spending, which makes up about 70 percent of aggregate expenditures in the economy, slows sharply during recessions. This slowdown can exacerbate employment losses and reduced production, making a recession even worse. Claudia Sahm proposes automatic direct payments to individuals to support consumer spending when the national unemployment rate rapidly rises.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is both an effective antipoverty program and a natural automatic stabilizer, expanding when the economy is weak and contracting when it is strong. Hilary Hoynes of the University of California, Berkeley and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of Northwestern University present reforms to strengthen SNAP’s countercyclical effects.