Tracking the economy in real time is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, the sharpest downturn since the Great Depression. Many official economic indicators come with significant lags. The U.S. Census Bureau has launched experimental weekly measures of new business formations in April and will begin publishing results of two new weekly surveys in mid-May. The Small Business Pulse Survey (initial results released May 14) will survey 100,000 small businesses each week on topics such as location closings, changes in employment, disruptions in the supply chain, the use of federal aid, and expectations concerning future operations. The Household Pulse Survey will measure how individuals are experiencing business curtailment and closures, stay-at-home orders, school closures, changes in the availability of consumer goods, and other abrupt and significant changes to American life. Data will be produced for each state and the 15 largest metro areas in the United States.
The Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy at Brookings held a virtual event on May 20 to highlight new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the ways they are collected, and what they show so far. Participating will be the Census Bureau’s Ron Jarmin, deputy director and COO; Nick Orsini, associate director for economic programs; and Victoria Velkoff, associate director for demographic programs. They will be joined by Daniel Goroff of the Sloan Foundation.
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