Key Issues > Economic Downturns > Reports Related to Economic Downturns

Economic Downturns — Federal Responses

Various preventative measures were taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and they had immediate consequences for the U.S. economy. In response to that economic downturn, the CARES Act and other relief laws and actions put trillions of federal dollars into the economy. GAO is issuing bi-monthly reports on this funding and making recommendations on how to improve the federal government’s response.

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Reports Related to Economic Downturns

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Debt and Bankruptcies

Bankruptcy is a federal process we often review, along with consumer debt. Private companies (big and small) and citizens with high debt are two of the groups often affected during recessions.

Related Reports

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY: Information on Wait Times, Bankruptcies, and Deaths among Applicants Who Appealed Benefit Denials
GAO-20-641R (Aug 13, 2020)

FINANCIAL COMPANY BANKRUPTCIES: Congress and Regulators Have Updated Resolution Planning Requirements
GAO-20-608R (Jul 21, 2020; Public Jul 21, 2020)

U.S. POSTAL SERVICE: Congressional Action Is Essential to Enable a Sustainable Business Model
GAO-20-385 (May 7, 2020)

MILLENNIAL GENERATION: Information on the Economic Status of Millennial Households Compared to Previous Generations
GAO-20-194 (Dec 13, 2019; Public Dec 18, 2019)

RETIREMENT SECURITY: Income and Wealth Disparities Continue through Old Age
GAO-19-587 (Aug 9, 2019; Public Sep 9, 2019)

PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS: Clarification from CFPB Could Help Ensure More Consistent Opportunities and Treatment for Borrowers
GAO-19-430 (May 24, 2019)

TAX DEBT COLLECTION CONTRACTS: IRS Analysis Could Help Improve Program Results and Better Protect Taxpayers
GAO-19-193 (Mar 29, 2019; Public Apr 29, 2019)

FINANCIAL COMPANY BANKRUPTCIES: Experts Had Mixed Views on Companies' Controls for Mitigating Obstacles
GAO-19-30 (Nov 8, 2018; Public Dec 10, 2018)

FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Schools' Default Rates
GAO-18-163 (Apr 26, 2018)

CORPORATE BANKRUPTCY: Stakeholders Have Mixed Views on Attorneys' Fee Guidelines and Venue Selection for Large Chapter 11 Cases
GAO-15-839 (Sep 23, 2015)

FINANCIAL COMPANY BANKRUPTCIES: Information on Legislative Proposals and International Coordination
GAO-15-299 (Mar 19, 2015)

CONSUMER FINANCE: Credit Cards Designed for Medical Services Not Covered by Insurance
GAO-14-570 (Jun 19, 2014; Public Jul 21, 2014)

CREDIT CARDS: Marketing to College Students Appears to Have Declined
GAO-14-225 (Feb 25, 2014)

CREDIT CARDS: Consumer Costs for Debt Protection Products Can Be Substantial Relative to Benefits but Are Not a Focus of Regulatory Oversight
GAO-11-311 (Mar 25, 2011)

Education and Research Institutions

Education and research institutions will be hard hit by pandemic disruptions. These institutions are key to long-term growth and innovation.

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Fiscal Pressures

These reports on the nation’s fiscal condition cover the federal government's budget outlook, federal debt, state and local fiscal conditions and pressures.

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Food Insecurity and Safety

We’ve reviewed school nutrition, lunch programs and threats to the supply chain that affect workplace safety.

Related Reports

AGRICULTURE SPENDING: Opportunities Exist for USDA to Identify Successes and Challenges of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program to Inform Future Efforts
GAO-20-711R (Sep 16, 2020)

USDA MARKET FACILITATION PROGRAM: Information on Payments for 2019
GAO-20-700R (Aug 21, 2020; Public Sep 14, 2020)

NATIONAL BIO AND AGRO-DEFENSE FACILITY: DHS and USDA Are Working to Transfer Ownership and Prepare for Operations, but Critical Steps Remain
GAO-20-331 (Jul 10, 2020; Public Aug 10, 2020)

NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS: Agencies Could Do More to Help Address the Nutritional Needs of Older Adults
GAO-20-18 (Nov 21, 2019; Public Dec 23, 2019)

FOOD LOSS AND WASTE: Building on Existing Federal Efforts Could Help to Achieve National Reduction Goal
GAO-19-391 (Jun 21, 2019)

FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE: USDA's Efforts to Prepare for a Potential Outbreak Could Be Strengthened
GAO-19-103 (Mar 12, 2019)

FOOD INSECURITY: Better Information Could Help Eligible College Students Access Federal Food Assistance Benefits
GAO-19-95 (Dec 21, 2018; Public Jan 9, 2019)

SUMMER MEALS: Actions Needed to Improve Participation Estimates and Address Program Challenges
GAO-18-369 (May 31, 2018; Public Jul 2, 2018)

WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH: Better Outreach, Collaboration, and Information Needed to Help Protect Workers at Meat and Poultry Plants
GAO-18-12 (Nov 9, 2017; Public Dec 7, 2017)

AVIAN INFLUENZA: USDA Has Taken Actions to Reduce Risks but Needs a Plan to Evaluate Its Efforts
GAO-17-360 (Apr 13, 2017; Public May 11, 2017)

FOOD SAFETY: A National Strategy Is Needed to Address Fragmentation in Federal Oversight
GAO-17-74 (Jan 13, 2017; Public Feb 13, 2017)

HIGH-RISK SERIES: Progress on Many High-Risk Areas, While Substantial Efforts Needed on Others
GAO-17-317 (Feb 15, 2017)

OLDER AMERICANS ACT: Updated Information on Unmet Need for Services
GAO-15-601R (Jun 10, 2015; Public Jun 15, 2015)

SCHOOL NUTRITION: USDA Has Efforts Underway to Help Address Ongoing Challenges Implementing Changes in Nutrition Standards
GAO-15-656 (Sep 14, 2015; Public Oct 14, 2015)

SCHOOL LUNCH: Implementing Nutrition Changes Was Challenging and Clarification of Oversight Requirements Is Needed
GAO-14-104 (Jan 28, 2014; Public Feb 27, 2014)

NUTRITION ASSISTANCE: Additional Efficiencies Could Improve Services to Older Adults
GAO-11-782T (Jun 21, 2011)

DOMESTIC FOOD ASSISTANCE: Complex System Benefits Millions, but Additional Efforts Could Address Potential Inefficiency and Overlap among Smaller Programs
GAO-10-346 (Apr 15, 2010)

SCHOOL MEAL PROGRAMS: Experiences of the States and Districts That Eliminated Reduced-price Fees
GAO-09-584 (Jul 17, 2009)

GAO-07-310 (Jan 31, 2007)

BIOTERRORISM: A Threat to Agriculture and the Food Supply
GAO-04-259T (Nov 19, 2003)

Health Care

We've reviewed Medicaid funding issues and hospital closures in rural areas—and their effects on local economies and access to quality health care.

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Housing affordability is a major concern. During times of economic instability homelessness increases, homeownership decreases, rent is harder to pay, and lending becomes restricted.

Related Reports

HOMELESSNESS: Better HUD Oversight of Data Collection Could Improve Estimates of Homeless Population
GAO-20-433 (Jul 14, 2020; Public Aug 13, 2020)

HOUSING: Preliminary Analysis of Homeownership Trends for Nine Cities
GAO-20-544R (Jun 25, 2020; Public Jul 27, 2020)

RENTAL HOUSING: As More Households Rent, the Poorest Face Affordability and Housing Quality Challenges
GAO-20-427 (May 27, 2020; Public Jun 26, 2020)

HOMELESS VETERANS: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Interagency Collaboration and Performance Measurement Procedures
GAO-20-428 (May 14, 2020)

REVERSE MORTGAGES: FHA Needs to Improve Monitoring and Oversight of Loan Outcomes and Servicing
GAO-19-702 (Sep 25, 2019)

RENTAL HOUSING ASSISTANCE: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Criminal History Policies and Implementation of the Fugitive Felon Initiative
GAO-18-429 (Aug 9, 2018; Public Sep 10, 2018)

OLDER ADULT HOUSING: Future Collaborations on Housing and Health Services Should Include Relevant Agencies and Define Outcomes
GAO-18-232 (Apr 26, 2018)

HOMEOWNERSHIP: Information on Mortgage Options and Effects on Accelerating Home Equity Building
GAO-18-297 (Mar 15, 2018)

RURAL HOUSING SERVICE: Additional Actions Would Help Ensure Reasonableness of Rental Assistance Estimates
GAO-17-725 (Sep 13, 2017)

GAO-17-236 (Jan 9, 2017)

HOUSING FOR SPECIAL NEEDS: Funding for HUD's Supportive Housing Programs
GAO-16-424 (May 31, 2016; Public May 31, 2016)

HOUSING FINANCE SYSTEM: A Framework for Assessing Potential Changes
GAO-15-131 (Oct 7, 2014)

VACANT PROPERTIES: Growing Number Increases Communities' Costs and Challenges
GAO-12-34 (Nov 4, 2011; Public Dec 6, 2011)

MORTGAGE REFORM: Potential Impacts of Provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act on Homebuyers and the Mortgage Market
GAO-11-656 (Jul 19, 2011)

NONPRIME MORTGAGES: Analysis of Loan Performance, Factors Associated with Defaults, and Data Sources
GAO-10-805 (Aug 24, 2010; Public Sep 23, 2010)

HOME MORTGAGES: Provisions in a 2007 Mortgage Reform Bill (H.R. 3915) Would Strengthen Borrower Protections, but Views on Their Long-term Impact Differ
GAO-09-741 (Jul 31, 2009)

Income, Employment, and Businesses

Unemployment insurance has continued to help many Americans who have lost jobs. Our past work looks at the safety net program, workforce training, and the nation’s job growth.

Related Reports

TRIBAL BROADBAND: FCC Should Take Efforts to Promote Tribal Access to Spectrum
GAO-19-668T (Sep 18, 2019)

CHILD CARE AND EARLY EDUCATION: Most States Offer Preschool Programs and Rely on Multiple Funding Sources
GAO-19-375 (May 8, 2019; Public Jun 7, 2019)

CONTINGENT WORKFORCE: BLS is Reassessing Measurement of Nontraditional Workers
GAO-19-273R (Jan 29, 2019; Public Feb 28, 2019)

REEMPLOYMENT SERVICES: DOL Could Better Support States in Targeting Unemployment Insurance Claimants for Services
GAO-18-633 (Sep 4, 2018; Public Sep 5, 2018)

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Actions Needed to Ensure Consistent Reporting of Overpayments and Claimants' Compliance with Work Search Requirements
GAO-18-486 (Aug 22, 2018; Public Sep 5, 2018)

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: FCC Should Improve Monitoring of Industry Efforts to Strengthen Wireless Network Resiliency
GAO-18-198 (Dec 12, 2017; Public Jan 9, 2018)

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: State Use of Warnings Related to Work Search Requirements Affects DOL's Improper Payment Estimates
GAO-18-133R (Nov 21, 2017; Public Dec 21, 2017)

WORKFORCE TRAINING: DOL Can Better Share Information on Services for On-Demand, or Gig, Workers
GAO-17-561 (Sep 26, 2017; Public Oct 26, 2017)

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Various Factors Affect Head Start and Other Early Childhood Teachers' Eligibility for Benefits
GAO-17-34 (Oct 17, 2016; Public Nov 16, 2016)

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: States Face Challenges in Modernization Efforts
GAO-13-859T (Sep 11, 2013)

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Department of Labor Could Further Facilitate Modernization of States' Unemployment Insurance Systems
GAO-12-957 (Sep 26, 2012)

INCOME SECURITY: Overlapping Disability and Unemployment Benefits Should be Evaluated for Potential Savings
GAO-12-764 (Jul 31, 2012; Public Aug 30, 2012)

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Economic Circumstances of Individuals Who Exhausted Benefits
GAO-12-408 (Feb 17, 2012)

INCOME SECURITY: The Effect of the 2007-2009 Recession on Older Adults
GAO-12-172T (Oct 18, 2011)

INCOME SECURITY: Older Adults and the 2007-2009 Recession
GAO-12-76 (Oct 17, 2011; Public Oct 18, 2011)

EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING PROGRAMS: Opportunities Exist for Improving Efficiency
GAO-11-506T (Apr 7, 2011)

Unemployment Insurance Measures Included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as of July 2009
GAO-09-942R (Jul 27, 2009; Public Aug 6, 2009)

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Receipt of Benefits Has Declined, with Continued Disparities for Low-Wage and Part-Time Workers
GAO-07-1243T (Sep 19, 2007)