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The coronavirus recession lasted 2 months, the shortest in U.S. history

In the second quarter of 2020, the U.S. GDP fell 31.4%, but bounced back by 33.1% in the third.


The onset of the coronavirus pandemic (February through April 2020) has officially been dubbed a recession, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Since it lasted just two months, it's the shortest in U.S. history. 

The stock market crashed, and 20.5 million jobs disappeared in April alone. In the second quarter of 2020, the U.S. GDP fell 31.4%, but it bounced back by 33.1% in the third quarter, thanks in part to the government's economic stimulus.

What is GDP and why is it important?

Video by David Fang

Typically, an economic downturn must include two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth to be defined as a recession. But though "the recent downturn had different characteristics and dynamics than prior recessions," said the NBER in a news release, "the committee concluded that the unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warranted the designation of this episode as a recession, even though the downturn was briefer than earlier contractions."

Though the economy is not back to pre-pandemic levels — there are 7.1 million fewer people working than there were in February 2020 — the committee concluded that any future economic downturn would be considered a separate event.

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