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68 posts on "Inequality"
January 18, 2023

Rural Households Hit Hardest by Inflation in 2021-22

Illustration: Inflation: does location matter? A U.S. map with a pin dropped in the center.

To conclude our series, we present disparities in inflation rates by U.S. census region and rural status between June 2019 and the present. Notably, rural households were hit by inflation the hardest during the 2021-22 inflationary episode. This is intuitive, as rural households rely on transportation, and especially on motor fuel, to a much greater extent than urban households do. More generally, the recent rise in inflation has affected households in the South more than the national average, and households in the Northeast by less than the national average, though this difference has decreased in the last few months. Once again, these changes in inflation patterns can be explained by transportation inflation driving a large extent of price rises during 2021 and much of 2022, with housing and food inflation lately coming to the fore.

Young, Less Educated Faced Higher Inflation in 2021—But Gaps Now Closed

Illustration: Inflation: what's changed? short arrow with college grad at the top; higher arrow with a non grad at the top.

We continue our series on inflation disparities by looking at disparities in inflation rates by educational attainment and age for the period June 2019 to the present. Remarkably, we find that disparities by age and education are considerably larger than those by income and are similar in size to those by race and ethnicity, both explored in our previous post. Specifically, during the inflationary period of 2021-22, younger people and people without a college degree faced the highest inflation, with steadily widening gaps relative to the overall average between early 2021 and June 2022, followed by a rapid narrowing of the gaps and a reversal of some of them by December 2022. This pattern arises primarily from a greater share of the expenditures of younger people and people without a college degree being devoted to transportation—particularly used cars and motor fuel—which led the 2021 inflationary episode but has since converged to general inflation.

Posted at 11:01 am in Education, Inequality, Inflation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Inflation Disparities by Race and Income Narrow

illustration: Inflation: who's more affected now? three races at different levels of a line chart.

As inflation has risen to forty-year highs, inflation inequality—disparities in the rates of inflation experienced by different demographic and economic groups– has become an increasingly important concern. In this three-part blog series, we revisit our main finding from June—that inflation inequality has increased across racial and ethnic groups—and provide estimates of differential inflation rates across groups based on income, education, age, and geographic location. We also use an updated methodology for computing inflation disparities by focusing on more disaggregated categories of spending, which corroborates our earlier findings and substantiates our conclusion that inflation inequality is a pronounced feature of the current inflationary episode.

October 20, 2022

Long COVID Appears to Have Led to a Surge of the Disabled in the Workplace

Decorative: illustration of briefcase with COVID virus with question: Has the workforce changed?

Although most of those infected with COVID-19 have recovered relatively quickly, a substantial share has not, and remains symptomatic months or even years later, in what is commonly referred to as long COVID. Data on the incidence of long COVID is scarce, but recent Census Bureau data suggest that sixteen million working age Americans suffer from it. The economic costs of long COVID is estimated to be in the trillions. While many with long COVID have dropped out of the labor force because they can no longer work, many others appear to be working despite having disabilities related to the disease. Indeed, there has been an increase of around 1.7 million disabled persons in the U.S. since the pandemic began, and there are close to one million newly disabled workers. These disabled workers can benefit from workplace accommodations to help them remain productive and stay on the job, particularly as the majority deal with fatigue and brain fog, the hallmarks of long COVID.

How Have Racial and Ethnic Earnings Gaps Changed after COVID-19?

Decorative: Illustration of three different ethnic figures standing on top of three bars measuring at different heights.

Racial and ethnic earnings disparities have been salient features of the U.S. economy for decades. Between the pandemic-driven recession in 2020 and the rising inflation since 2021, workers’ real and nominal earnings have seen rapid change. To get a sense of how recent economic conditions have affected earnings disparities, we examine real and nominal weekly earnings trends for Asian, Black, Hispanic, and white workers. We find that average real weekly earnings have been declining in the past year, but less so for Black and Hispanic workers than for white and Asian workers. Black and Hispanic workers have also experienced small increases in real earnings since the pre-pandemic period.

Posted at 7:00 am in Inequality, Labor Market, Wages | Permalink
September 27, 2022

Revisiting Federal Student Loan Forgiveness: An Update Based on the White House Plan

On August 24, 2022, the White House released a plan to cancel federal student loans for most borrowers. In April,  we wrote about the costs and who most benefits from a few hypothetical loan forgiveness proposals using our Consumer Credit Panel, based on Equifax credit report data.  In this post, we update our framework to consider the White House plan now that parameters are known, with estimates for the total amount of forgiven loans and the distribution of who holds federal student loans before and after the proposed debt jubilee.

September 6, 2022

Small Business Recovery after Natural Disasters

The first post of this series found that small businesses owned by people of color are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. In this post, we focus on the aftermath of disasters, and examine disparities in the ability of firms to reopen their businesses and access disaster relief. Our results indicate that Black-owned firms are more likely to remain closed for longer periods and face greater difficulties in obtaining the immediate relief needed to cope with a natural disaster.

Posted at 7:02 am in Climate Change, Credit, Inequality | Permalink

How Do Natural Disasters Affect U.S. Small Business Owners?

Recent research has linked climate change and socioeconomic inequality (see here, here, and here). But what are the effects of climate change on small businesses, particularly those owned by people of color, which tend to be more resource-constrained and less resilient? In a series of two posts, we use the Federal Reserve’s Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS) to document small businesses’ experiences with natural disasters and how these experiences differ based on the race and ethnicity of business owners. This first post shows that small firms owned by people of color sustain losses from natural disasters at a disproportionately higher rate than other small businesses, and that these losses make up a larger portion of their total revenues. In the second post, we explore the ability of small firms to reopen and to obtain disaster relief funding in the aftermath of climate events. 

Posted at 7:00 am in Climate Change, Credit, Inequality | Permalink
June 30, 2022

Was the 2021-22 Rise in Inflation Equitable?

Illustration: Prices: Who's paying more? shopping cart with dollar sign and up arrow.

In our previous post, we discussed how the labor market recovery—the “maximum employment” half of the Federal Reserve System’s dual mandate—featured not only a return of overall employment rates to pre-pandemic levels, but also a narrowing of racial and ethnic gaps in employment rates. In this post, we take up the second half of the dual mandate—price stability—and discuss heterogeneity in inflation rates faced by different demographic groups during the rise in inflation in
2021-22. We find that, in contrast to inequalities in employment rates, disparities in inflation rates have widened during the recent inflationary episode, with Black and Hispanic Americans experiencing more inflation.

May 23, 2022

The Adverse Effect of “Mandatory” Flood Insurance on Access to Credit

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was designed to reduce household and lender flood-risk exposure and “encourage lending.” In this post, which is based on our related study, we show that in certain situations the program actually limits access to credit, particularly for low-income borrowers—an unintended consequence of this well-intentioned program.

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Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy. Launched in 2011, the blog takes its name from the Bank’s headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.

The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Asani Sarkar, all economists in the Bank’s Research Group.

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Economic Inequality

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This ongoing Liberty Street Economics series analyzes disparities in economic and policy outcomes by race, gender, age, region, income, and other factors.

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