6 of our favorite Bankrate articles from 2020

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With a new year just around the corner, many of us are hoping for a fresh start and preferably a less eventful year.

While this year has been challenging, it has given many of us lots of time to reflect on our financial situations and goals. And if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you came to Bankrate for answers — and we’re glad you did.

Whether it was navigating unemployment or gaining a better understanding of the economic situation at hand, the Bankrate team has been proud to help its readers navigate these unprecedented times.

But before we put it all behind us, the Bankrate team took some time to reflect on this wild year and picked some of our favorite stories from it.

1. A new wave of coronavirus-driven layoffs are looming — here’s who is most at risk

Sarah Foster, U.S. economy reporter

Explaining how contagious recessions are to casual readers used to be one of the most challenging parts of the job. All of that changed with the coronavirus. As states shut down coast-to-coast to arrest the contagion’s spread, everyone witnessed the pandemic in real time become a health crisis and an economic one. Eight months into the recession, economists started underscoring fears of another wave of layoffs, which they said could come for the hospitality, retail, food services and tourism workers who took the first hit in March — and remarkably, also for the white-collar workers who were initially left unscathed. My favorite story of the year sought to track down which workers might be the most at risk.

2. Fed drops rates to zero in emergency rate cut due to coronavirus effects

Matthew Goldberg, consumer banking reporter

I’m a reporter who covers high-yield savings accounts and CDs. So it might be surprising that my favorite article is actually news that generally hurt savers.

Sarah Foster’s article about the Federal Reserve’s historic Sunday announcement that it was dropping the federal funds rate back down to 0-0.25 percent is my favorite story of 2020. In a year with so many unprecedented events, this March 15 breaking news story stands out. Foster, Bankrate’s U.S. economy reporter, also did a great job explaining why the Fed did this, all on deadline.

This and Foster’s coverage of the Fed’s unscheduled announcement that it was lowering rates on March 3, marking the first time the Fed reduced rates unexpectedly in a 13-day span according to the article, really highlights what the Fed did and how early it took action.

3. The coronavirus pandemic upended moving trends, USPS data shows

Lance Davis, editorial director

Housing trends have been really interesting to follow during the pandemic. One of the most discussed narratives has been the exodus of residents from cities to the suburbs. Bankrate mortgage reporter Zach Wichter filed a Freedom Of Information Act request for change of address data from the USPS to see what the numbers showed. As a resident New Yorker, I was fascinated to see that the majority of people who left Manhattan didn’t flee for out-of-state suburbs; they instead went within 100 miles away, to places like Brooklyn, East Hampton and Southampton. There are a lot of great data points to check out in the article, and as a journalism nerd, I really appreciated the use of the FOIA request!

4. Affordability gap makes some homeowners rethink where to live

Jeff Ostrowski, senior mortgage reporter

I continue to be amazed by the huge gap in home prices throughout the country. In San Francisco, the typical home costs $1.4 million. In Scranton, the median is just $133,000. For this piece, I explored the numbers, interviewed economists and Realtors and talked to a homeowner who was quite happy to have ditched Boston, where his six-figure income didn’t go far, for Athens, Georgia, where he could afford a spacious home with a big yard. “I love the city, and I love the energy, but it just wasn’t worth it to me,” Nick Huber told me.

5. SoFi expert: Here’s how you should respond to Trump’s executive order on student loans

Chelsea Wing, loans editor

Student loans have been under a lot of scrutiny this year, a discussion spurred in part by the decision to defer federal student loan payments through the end of the year. For many student loan borrowers, this relief was sorely needed, as the coronavirus continues to place financial strain on borrowers.

With this story, Hanneh Gundersen took one of Bankrate’s Instagram Live sessions and distilled it into its most important points: what the relief measures are, who can and should take action, and how borrowers can benefit. It’s a great snapshot of what’s happening in the student loans world, with expert insight into the best money moves for affected borrowers.

6. How the Federal Reserve affects mortgage rates

Bill McGuire, senior editor

We write a lot about mortgage rates, so much so that it’s easy to assume everyone knows how they work. That would be wrong, however. Not many people are tuned into anything about mortgage rates, except perhaps the few times in their life when they get a mortgage.

This story demonstrates how rates are set in clear and simple terms that can be easily digested. Jeff Ostrowski, Bankrate’s senior mortgage reporter, stays away from the dreary wall of numbers style of writing and instead shows the reader how this important agency does — and most importantly doesn’t — have an effect on the No. 1 bill most families pay each month.