The U.S. economy suffered its biggest blow since the Great Depression in the second quarter as the COVID-19 pandemic shattered consumer and business spending, and a nascent recovery is under threat from a resurgence in new cases of coronavirus.
The bulk of the historic contraction in activity reported by the Commerce Department on Thursday occurred in April when activity almost ground to an abrupt halt after restaurants, bars and factories among others were shuttered in mid-March to slow the spread of coronavirus.
More than five years of growth have been wiped out. With the recovery faltering, pressure is mounting for the White House and Congress to agree on a second stimulus package. President Donald Trump, who is trailing Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden in opinion polls, said on Wednesday he was in no hurry. Trump on Thursday raised the possibility of delaying the Nov. 3 presidential election.
“This is hard to swallow,” said Jason Reed, finance professor at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. “Right now, the American economy is speeding toward a fiscal cliff. Not only do we need Americans to take serious action preventing the spread of the disease, but we also need Congress to agree on another stimulus package and quickly.”