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Enhanced Benefits and Outlook: Continuation vs. End

Summary:
From Wells Fargo Economics today: To simulate a continuation of unemployment benefits (Scenario 1), we held monthly nominal personal disposable income constant at its July level of .49 trillion (before the PUC expired) through the end of 2021. To simulate the expiry of benefits (Scenario 2), we subtracted the billion of monthly PUC payments from income levels in August through December, and then we let the .8 billion of monthly PUA and PEUC payments expire starting in January. We then held that level of income constant through the end of 2021. Here’s the picture: That is, instead of an approximately 6% growth (SAAR) in 2020Q4, we get -3.6%. That’s what their model projects, although given employment growth, the actual Q4 number might well be better. The more appropriate

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From Wells Fargo Economics today:

To simulate a continuation of unemployment benefits (Scenario 1), we held
monthly nominal personal disposable income constant at its July level of
$1.49 trillion (before the PUC expired) through the end of 2021. To simulate
the expiry of benefits (Scenario 2), we subtracted the $75 billion of monthly
PUC payments from income levels in August through December, and then
we let the $16.8 billion of monthly PUA and PEUC payments expire starting
in January. We then held that level of income constant through the end of
2021.

Here’s the picture:

Enhanced Benefits and Outlook: Continuation vs. End

That is, instead of an approximately 6% growth (SAAR) in 2020Q4, we get -3.6%. That’s what their model projects, although given employment growth, the actual Q4 number might well be better. The more appropriate interpretation is that that keeping enhanced benefits at the nominal level which they were at July would have added about 9.5 percentage points of growth in 2020Q4 (which is about 2.5 percentage points, not annualized).

Menzie Chinn
He is Professor of Public Affairs and Economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

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