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July 31, 2020 - The U.S. economy shrank at a record 32.9 per cent annual pace in the second quarter. Gross domestic product (GDP) has never shrunk by more than 10 per cent in any quarter since the recession of 1958.
A recession refers to two consecutive quarters of declining GDP -- the broadest measure of the economy. Between January and March, GDP fell by an annualized rate of five per cent, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).
The second-quarter GDP drop was nearly four times worse than during the peak of the financial crisis when the economy contracted at an annual rate of 8.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The decline in second-quarter GDP reflected the response to Covid-19, as “stay-at-home” orders were issued in March and April.
Earlier quarterly declines pale in comparison to this year. During the Great Depression of 1932, the U.S. economy contracted by 12.9 per cent. During the so-called Eisenhower Recession of 1958, GDP declined by an annualized 10.0 per cent, as production slowed and high-interest rates put an end to the post-World War II expansion.
The “advance” GDP estimate released by the BEA is subject to further revision. A “second” estimate for the second quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on August 27, 2020.
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