Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, Brown Economist, Colleagues Develop Real-Time Economic Tracker

May 7, 2020

In May 2020, John Friedman and a nonprofit research team called Opportunity Insights launched the OI Economic Tracker, a new real-time economic tracker to help policymakers, nonprofit organizations and philanthropists understand the dimensions of the COVID-induced economic downturn and identify targeted, effective recovery efforts.


The OI Economic Tracker presents data on the latest economic trends alongside independent academic analysis — providing a well-informed, up-to-the-minute picture of the rapidly shifting American economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tracker brings together commercial data and public-sector information to produce economic research and analysis that provides timely insights to inform the public and guide policy. An interactive dashboard focuses on key economic indicators including small business activity, employment and consumer spending — alongside key contextual factors on education, public health and policy milestones. Users can drill down to specific geographic areas and filter by industry and income level. The research team intends for policymakers to use the tools and functions of the OI Economic Tracker to understand both the state of the economy in real time and whether their policies are proving effective.

Friedman co-directs Opportunity Insights alongside Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, both economists at Harvard University.