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Mobility and Engagement Following the SARS-Cov-2 Outbreak


  • Tyler Atkinson
  • Jim Dolmas
  • Christoffer Koch
  • Evan F. Koenig
  • Karel Mertens
  • Anthony Murphy
  • Kei-Mu Yi


We develop a Mobility and Engagement Index (MEI) based on a range of mobility metrics from Safegraph geolocation data, and validate the index with mobility data from Google and Unacast. We construct MEIs at the county, MSA, state and nationwide level, and link these measures to indicators of economic activity. According to our measures, the bulk of sheltering-in-place and social disengagement occurred during the week of March 15 and simultaneously across the U.S. At the national peak of the decline in mobility in early April, localities that engaged in a 10% larger decrease in mobility than average saw an additional 0.6% of their populations claiming unemployment insurance, an additional 2.8 percentage point reduction in small businesses employment, an additional 2.6 percentage point increase in small business closures, and an additional 3.2 percentage point reduction in new-business applications. A gradual and broad-based resumption of mobility and engagement started in the third week of April.

Suggested Citation

  • Tyler Atkinson & Jim Dolmas & Christoffer Koch & Evan F. Koenig & Karel Mertens & Anthony Murphy & Kei-Mu Yi, 2020. "Mobility and Engagement Following the SARS-Cov-2 Outbreak," Working Papers 2014, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:feddwp:88040
    DOI: 10.24149/wp2014
    Note: June 2020: new title. A previous version of this paper was circulated under the title, Social Distancing Following the SARS-Cov-2 Outbreak.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Allcott, Hunt & Boxell, Levi & Conway, Jacob & Gentzkow, Matthew & Thaler, Michael & Yang, David, 2020. "Polarization and public health: Partisan differences in social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 191(C).
    2. John Manuel Barrios & Yael V. Hochberg, 2020. "Risk Perception Through the Lens of Politics in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic," Working Papers 2020-32, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    3. Seth G. Benzell & Avinash Collis & Christos Nicolaides, 2020. "Rationing social contact during the COVID-19 pandemic: Transmission risk and social benefits of US locations," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117(26), pages 14642-14644, June.
    4. Daniel J. Lewis & Karel Mertens & James H. Stock, 2020. "U.S. Economic Activity During the Early Weeks of the SARS-Cov-2 Outbreak," Working Papers 2011, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    5. Sumedha Gupta & Thuy D. Nguyen & Felipe Lozano Rojas & Shyam Raman & Byungkyu Lee & Ana Bento & Kosali I. Simon & Coady Wing, 2020. "Tracking Public and Private Responses to the COVID-19 Epidemic: Evidence from State and Local Government Actions," NBER Working Papers 27027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Daniel J. Lewis & Karel Mertens & James H. Stock & Mihir Trivedi, 2020. "Measuring Real Activity Using a Weekly Economic Index," Staff Reports 920, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Fuleky, 2020. "Nowcasting the Trajectory of the COVID-19 Recovery," Working Papers 202022, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    2. Constantin Bürgi & Nisan Gorgulu, 2020. "Social Distancing and the Economic Impact of Covid-19 in the United States," CESifo Working Paper Series 8577, CESifo.
    3. Daniel J. Lewis & Karel Mertens & James H. Stock & Mihir Trivedi, 2020. "High Frequency Data and a Weekly Economic Index during the Pandemic," Staff Reports 954, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    4. Paul Ho & Thomas A. Lubik & Christian Matthes, 2020. "How To Go Viral: A COVID-19 Model with Endogenously Time-Varying Parameters," Working Paper 20-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    5. Sitian Liu & Yichen Su, 2020. "The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Demand for Density: Evidence from the U.S. Housing Market," Working Papers 2024, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, revised 23 Oct 2020.

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    More about this item


    Social Distancing and Economic Activity; Location Data; COVID-19; Social Distancing Index; SARS-Cov-2;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C15 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Statistical Simulation Methods: General
    • E66 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General Outlook and Conditions
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R19 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Other

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