Recovery Scorecard – January 2021

Housing Booms, Employment Falters

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

RCF’s January Recovery Scorecard shows the economy has recovered 87% of its recession loss, up from an 83% recovery recorded in our December scorecard.  [Note that since economic data are released with a lag, the January report includes data from December.]  The boom in the housing market is driving the recovery, with housing starts, permits and home sales all exceeding their pre-recession levels.  But the job market is still mired in recession, with most of labor measures showing recoveries of 50 – 70%.  Excluding housing, the RCF scorecard shows only a 76% recovery.  That’s the same as the recovery of GDP, a quarterly measure not included in our monthly metrics. The just released 2020Q4 report shows real GDP down 2.5% from its 2019Q4 peak, having recovered 75% of the 10% loss it had suffered after the 2020Q2 collapse.

Recovery Progress by Economic Variable

Notes and methodology:  All data are seasonally adjusted monthly values for December. Example calculation for economic variable #1, real income less government transfers fell 8.1% from its February value to its low point in April.  In the latest available report, the variable was 1.9% below its peak value.  Therefore, it has recovered 77% 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.

Appendix – Recent History of Recovery Scorecard

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

In addition to the housing sector, industrial production, exports, and vehicle sales all showed marked improvements since our last report.  Real income less transfers and real consumer spending declined.

Monthly Recovery Percentages