Transfer payments increased by $3 trillion in April. Unemployment insurance increased from $70 billion in March, to $430 billion in April. And “Other” (mostly the CARES Act) increased by $2,600 billion in April.
Without the increase in transfer payments, Personal Income in April would have declined by about 6%.
A key measure of the health of the economy (Used by NBER in recession dating) is Real Personal Income less Transfer payments.
This graph shows real personal income less transfer payments since 1990.
This measure of economic activity decreased 2.8% in March, compared to February, and another 6.3% in April (compared to March).