Recovery Scorecard – February 2021

Economy has Recovered 91% of its Recession Loss

Peter Bernstein, Vice President,, 312-431-1540 x1515

RCF’s February Recovery Scorecard shows the economy has recovered 91% of its recession loss, up from an 87% recovery recorded in our January scorecard.  [Note that since economic data are released with a lag, the February report includes some data from January.]  After stalling in December, the recovery picked up its pace in the last two months. Three of our measures already exceed their previous peaks: Real Durable Goods, Building Permits, and Home Sales.   Compared with our January scorecard, 13 of our 16 measures improved, but three took a step back: Real Income less Transfers, Full-Time Employment, and Housing Starts.

Recovery Progress by Economic Variable

Notes and methodology:  All data are seasonally adjusted monthly values.  Variables 4 through 9 are data from February; all others are from January. Example calculation for economic variable #1, real income less government transfers fell 8.1% from its February 2020 value to its low point in April 2020.  In the latest available report, the variable was 2.8% below its peak value.  Therefore, it has recovered 66% of the loss.  Data Sources: #1, 2, 3, 12, 13: Bureau of Economic Analysis; #4, 5, 6, 7, 8:  Bureau of Labor Statistics; #9: U.S. Employment and Training Administration; #10: Federal Reserve; #11: Bureau of the Census; #14, 15: Bureau of the Census and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, #16:  National Association of Realtors.

Employment measures continue to lag in this recovery, as is typically the case. In the mild 2001 recession, real GDP recovered its loss in 6 months, but it took employment 3 years to return to its pre-recession peak.  In the Great Recession, real GDP recovered in two years; employment took five years. So, even though it is likely that GDP will fully recover some time this year, a full employment recovery could still be years away.

Appendix – Recent History of Recovery Scorecard

Note:  Historical data are often revised so comparisons with earlier RCF Scorecards may reflect the impact of revisions. 

Monthly Recovery Percentages