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U.S. economy shrinks by 3.5 percent in 2020, the worst contraction since 1946

Brendan Morrow
·1 min read

The U.S. economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic just had its worst year in over seven decades.

The Commerce Department on Thursday said the U.S. economy shrank by 3.5 percent in 2020, resulting in the worst year for growth since 1946, The Washington Post reports. This was also the U.S. economy's first yearly contraction since 2009 amid the Great Recession.

The report represented a "major disappointment and hit to the nascent recovery in the domestic economy," RSM economist Joseph Brusuelas said, per Axios. It also "showed the recovery from the pandemic losing steam" late in 2020, Reuters reports, with GDP increasing at only a 4.0 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter.

The numbers came on Thursday morning at about the same time the Labor Department reported that another 847,000 Americans filed new jobless claims last week, a decline from the week before but still a historically high number.

"The virus is in the driver's seat — there's no getting around it," Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao said, per The Wall Street Journal. "Until we control the pandemic, we can't hope for a full recovery economically."

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