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Real Personal Income: Transfer Payments

The BEA released the Personal Income and Outlays, August 2021 report on Friday. The report showed that government transfer payments were still almost $770 billion (on SAAR basis) above the February 2020 level (pre-pandemic) Note: Seasonal adjustment doesn’t make sense with one time payments, but that is how the data is presented.

This table shows the amount of unemployment insurance and “Other” transfer payments since January 2020 (pre-crisis level). The increase in “Other” was mostly due to parts of the relief acts including direct payments.

Note: Not in the table below, but Social Security and Medicare payments haven’t increased significantly from the pre-recession levels. Social Security increased from $1,065 billion SAAR in Jan 2020 to $1,117 billion SAAR in August 2021. Medicare increased from $807 billion to $826 billion. Medicaid increased significantly from $603 billion to $759 billion.
But most of the increase in transfer payments – compared to the levels prior to the crisis – is from unemployment insurance and “other” (includes direct payments).

Selected Transfer Payments
Billions of dollars, SAAR
Other Unemployment
Insurance
Jan-20 $511 $26
Feb-20 $506 $26
Mar-20 $516 $67
Apr-20 $3,393 $435
May-20 $1,373 $1,287
Jun-20 $743 $1,396
Jul-20 $750 $1,366
Aug-20 $697 $612
Sep-20 $950 $325
Oct-20 $714 $296
Nov-20 $580 $285
Dec-20 $604 $319
Jan-21 $2,317 $574
Feb-21 $735 $558
Mar-21 $4,706 $566
Apr-21 $1,345 $516
May-21 $806 $492
Jun-21 $744 $433
Jul-21 $920 $380
Aug-21 $939 $365

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