People receiving unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 recession were entitled to $600 of additional payments per week through July. This large increase in benefit payments raised a concern that recipients would delay returning to work. However, analysis suggests that the available aid would not outweigh the value of a longer-term stable income in workers’ decisions to accept job offers. Evidence from recent labor market outcomes confirms that the supplemental payments had little or no adverse effect on job search.
This paper proposes a simple framework to help monitor and understand movements in PCE inflation in real time. The approach is to decompose inflation using simple categorical-level regressions or systems of equations. The estimates are then used to group categories into components of PCE inflation. I review some applications of the methodology, and show how it can help explain inflation dynamics over recent episodes. The methodology shows that inflation remained low in the mid-2010s primarily because of factors unrelated to aggregate economic conditions. I also apply the methodology to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decomposition reveals that a majority of the drop in core PCE inflation after the onset of the pandemic was attributable to an initial strong decline in consumer demand, which more recently has rebounded somewhat.