COVID Delivered Shortest Recession in US History

Severe downturn officially lasted 2 months, ending in April 2020
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2021 6:31 AM CDT
COVID Delivered Shortest Recession in US History
In this Sept. 2, 2020, photo, a store-closing sign in Dedham, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Economists have concluded that the pandemic inflicted a deep recession on the US economy last year, but also the shortest one in history. The National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of such things, declared Monday that the recession lasted all of two months, ending in April 2020, reports the Wall Street Journal. Prior to this, the shortest recession on the books was one that lasted six months in 1980, per CNBC. Pretty much everything about the 2020 recession was unique, but the bureau decided that the unprecedented plunge in employment and production brought on by pandemic lockdowns warranted the designation.

“The initial shock phase was so brief in part because people partially returned to stores out of necessity, and also because businesses learned to cope with such partial solutions as takeout restaurant food, as well as masks and social distancing,” says macroeconomist Robert Gordon, a member of the panel. Government stimulus programs also played a role in the recession's short duration, he added. Last year's second quarter saw a 31.4% plunge in GDP, followed by an equally dizzying rise of 33.4% the following period, per CNBC. (Meanwhile, the delta variant is causing investors to worry anew about recovery.)

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