Inflation remains elevated, labor markets are close to the strongest they have been, real consumption is up year-over year, but all of these observations are with respect to averages. Behind these macroeconomic trends can be widely varying experiences across different demographic and socioeconomic groups that make up our society. To provide researchers, practitioners, and the public with timely, regularly updated and comprehensive answers to these questions, we launched the Equitable Growth Indicators (EGIs)—a new tool to help foster the evolving discussion about economic inequality and equitable growth. To illustrate the utility of the EGIs, we provide examples of some striking differences in trends captured in the May release of the EGIs on inflation, real earnings, and real spending. More heterogeneity analysis and data are available at nyfed.org/egi.
We continue our series on military service and consider veterans’ earnings and labor market outcomes. We find that veterans earn more than 12 percent less and are 4 percentage points (18 percent) more likely to be out of the labor force than comparable nonveterans. Interestingly, accounting for veterans’ differences from comparable nonveterans in terms of education and disability status largely explains these labor market differences.
Veterans are an understudied group that forms an important part of the fabric of American society and that constitutes a significant segment of the population. In the first post of this two-part series, we will investigate how the outcomes of veteran men–in educational attainment, health, and housing–differ from those of comparable men who did not serve in the military. Looking only at men, for reasons described below, we find that relative to nonveteran men with a high school degree and a similar distribution of demographic and geographic characteristics, veterans are 7 percentage points less likely to have a college degree and are over 50 percent more likely to experience a disability. Veterans are also somewhat likelier to rent a home than to own and, as renters, pay a lower average rent, suggesting they experience lower quality housing or live in worse neighborhoods.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the two monetary policy goals of the Federal Reserve System— one-half of our dual mandate—is to aim for “maximum employment.” However, labor market outcomes are not monolithic, and different demographic and economic groups experience different labor market outcomes. In this post, we analyze heterogeneity in employment rates by race and ethnicity, focusing on the COVID-19 recession of March-April 2020 and its aftermath. We find that the demographic employment gaps temporarily increased during the onset of the pandemic but narrowed back by spring 2022 to close to where they were in 2019. In the second post of this series, we will focus on heterogeneity in inflation rates, the second part of our dual mandate.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in one of the sharpest recessions and recoveries in U.S. history. As the virus spread over the country in a matter of weeks in March 2020, most states rapidly locked down nonessential economic activity, which plummeted as a result. As the first wave of COVID-19 subsided and people gradually learned to “live with the virus,” states reversed most of the initial lockdowns and economic activity rebounded. In our ongoing Economic Inequality series, we have explored many aspects of how the economic turmoil associated with COVID-19 differentially affected households. Here, we turn to small business experience. The first post in this three-part installment seeks to understand if there was variance in small business activity across counties that differed by income and race. In two companion posts, we investigate the experience of small businesses in terms of credit access, looking at characteristics of who received and who benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The analysis finds inequalities in PPP credit access as well as differences in the loan and recipient county characteristics for those who received loans through financial technology (fintech) providers versus other lenders.