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Chicago Fed Letter

Helping Homeowners During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons from the Great Recession

By Gene Amromin, Jane Dokko, and Karen Dynan

The Covid-19 public health crisis has sharply reduced the earnings of millions of U.S. households, following the severe curtailment of economic activity needed to contain the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, households continue to confront their ongoing financial obligations. The ability of households to manage these obligations has important consequences for the speed at which the U.S. economy can recover from the current crisis. Households that are wiped out financially in the coming months will not be in a position to strongly resume spending once the virus containment issues have passed. Moreover, a wave of missed payments on mortgages and other types of household debt could propagate through the financial system—weakening financial institutions, unnerving investors, and further prolonging the economic slump.

How Does Social Distancing Affect the Spread of Covid-19 in the United States?

By Bhashkar Mazumder and Avinash Moorthy

In recent weeks the country has begun to ease restrictions put in place to counter the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, it is important for policymakers and the public to understand the extent to which increasing levels of mobility among the population may lead to a rise in the spread of the disease.

How Do Unemployment Benefits Relate to Job Search Behavior?

By R. Jason Faberman and Ali Haider Ismail

We examine the relationship between unemployment insurance and job search using data from 2013 through 2019. Our research shows that the unemployed exert a high level of effort to find work. This is especially true for those receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits search less intensely for work, but are also willing to accept work that pays considerably less than their prior job.

What Is Business Interruption Insurance and How Is It Related to the Covid-19 Pandemic?

By Shanthi Ramnath

After nonessential businesses shut down their operations to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus in March 2020, many business owners looked to their property insurance policies for relief. Such policies often include business interruption (BI) insurance, which covers income losses if a business is forced to close. Given the shelter-in-place orders issued by state and local governments, BI coverage was assumed by many to apply.

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