USA economy plunged a record 32.9% in the second quarter

Grant Boone
July 31, 2020

More businesses have had to shut down again as virus cases rise, undermining the nascent U.S. recovery.

On Thursday, Wall Street's main indexes were set to open lower after data confirmed the economy suffered its steepest contraction since the Great Depression in the second quarter, adding to gloom from job losses and a resurgence in cases of COVID-19.

The US economy plunged a staggering 32.9 percent from April through June on an annualized basis, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported- by far the worst contraction on record.

That decline was especially noticed in service industries - such as travel and tourism, bars and restaurants, and medical services - which saw spending nosedive 43.5%.

The growth figures released separately by the Commerce Department are given at an annual rate - a measure of the full-year result if the damage was translated over 12 months. Taken all together, the American economy is now 10.6% below its level in the fourth quarter of 2019, notes Payne.

The data "should compel Congress to move swiftly to provide targeted and temporary assistance to unemployed Americans, employers, and state and local governments, and liability protections for businesses who follow public health guidelines".

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Why it matters: Widespread lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic from ravaged the economy in a way that's never been seen in modern times, and hope for a swift recovery has been dashed as cases have surged nationwide. Trump tweeted, prompting many to say he was trying to distract attention from the dismal numbers.

More recent data shows a renewed economic slowdown alongside worsening outbreaks across the country.

Continuing claims, the number of people receiving benefits for more than a week, jumped to over 17 million while the insured unemployment rate rose to 11.6% in the week ended July 18.

USA economic output fell at a stunning 32.9% annual rate in the second quarter - a level not seen since the Great Depression, according to data released Thursday.

Adding to the economic gloom was a disappointing jobless claims report, also released Thursday, which showed that initial weekly unemployment filings rose for the second straight week after steadily falling from its March peak of nearly 7 million.

"But odds are the second-half recovery will be slower than initially expected, making up for less than half of the second-quarter drop".

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