July 31, 2020: The US economy collapsed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, suffering its largest decline on record while hopes for a recovery took another hit as job losses increased, according to government data released Thursday.
The 32.9 percent GDP contraction, though slightly better than expected, was the worst experienced by the world's largest economy since at least 1947 and underscored the severity of the rapidly unfolding crisis, which has already destroyed tens of millions of jobs.
While President Donald Trump continues to promise a dramatic recovery, COVID-19 cases have resurged in recent weeks, eroding early progress towards a rebound and forcing authorities in several states to reimpose restrictions that sent workers back home.
The latest Labor Department data showed a second straight weekly increase in initial claims for jobless benefits following several weeks of declines, prompting renewed calls for Congress to quickly approve a new round of emergency spending to support the economy.
The separate growth figures from the Commerce Department are given at an annual rate — a measure of the full-year result if the damage was translated over 12 months. Compared to the same quarter of 2019, economic activity fell 9.5 percent, still the worst figure since 1948.
“The staggering news of the historic decline of the gross domestic product in the second quarter should shock us all,” US Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Neil Bradley said in a statement.
The data “should compel Congress to move swiftly” to provide assistance to unemployed workers and businesses.