WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy shrank at a dizzying 32.9% annual rate in the April-June quarter — by far the worst quarterly plunge ever — when the viral outbreak shut down businesses, throwing tens of millions out of work and sending unemployment surging to 14.7%, the government said Thursday.
The Commerce Department’s estimate of the second-quarter decline in the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, marked the sharpest such drop on records dating to 1947. The previous worst quarterly contraction, a 10% drop, occurred in 1958 during the Eisenhower administration.
Colt now fears she may have to shutter her business permanently. Many small businesses nationwide are reaching similar breaking points in an economy with the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. Small firms have survived the pandemic so far with a mix of government aid, forbearance on debt and rent and creativity in selling to an increasingly homebound and financially distressed populace.
As the first wave of U.S. aid runs short – and landlords and lenders lose patience – lawmakers are in tense negotiations over a new round of stimulus, which could include more money for small business.
Joe Biden plans to unveil a proposal Thursday to spend $700 billion on American products and research, challenging President Trump’s “America First” agenda with a competing brand of economic nationalism and setting the stage for an election-year showdown over the country’s financial future.
The Biden campaign says his plan for manufacturing and innovation will bring back jobs lost this year and create at least 5 million more with sweeping investments in domestic technology; reduce dependence on foreign countries to supply critical goods; and implement trade and tax policies that empower U.S. workers.
“Biden does not accept the defeatist view that the forces of automation and globalization render us helpless to retain well-paid union jobs and create more of them here in America,” says a 15-page summary. “U.S. manufacturing was the Arsenal of Democracy in World War II and must be part of the Arsenal of American Prosperity today, helping fuel an economic recovery for working families.”
It’s a cash cliff millions of Americans face this summer as the emergency benefits — which lifted U.S. consumer incomes by a record 10.8% in April — expire. The loss of that safety net looms in the weeks ahead, well before a sustained recovery is likely to take hold from the sudden and deep recession brought on by the novel coronavirus. Personal income dropped 4.2% in May, data Friday showed.
The $600 supplement Congress added to weekly unemployment benefits is due to expire July 31.
Without new support, recipients face a substantial loss of income – particularly devastating for those like the Ramirez family who worked in hard-hit sectors like hospitality where new jobs are scarce. During high unemployment and a still-raging pandemic, the end of enhanced jobless benefits could drag on consumer spending, set off a wave of missed rent and mortgage payments and translate to a slower recovery, economists said.