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U.S. GDP will return to its pre-coronavirus level by mid-2021 — a quicker than expected recovery from the economy's pandemic free-fall, according to new projections by the Congressional Budget office.

Why it matters: The latest estimates from the nonpartisan office paint a rosier — though still not great — path for the U.S. economy.

Data: Congressional Budget Office; Note: Inflation (PCE price index) and GDP estimates show percent change from prior year, Unemployment shows estimated fourth-quarter level; Chart: Axios Visuals

Details: The unemployment rate is estimated to hit 5.3% by year-end — versus the 7.6% the CBO estimated in July. (As of December, the unemployment rate was 6.7%.)

  • Longer-term, the CBO projects that the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge will average 1.9% between 2024 and 2031 — slightly below the Fed's 2% inflation target.
  • By a different gauge, the CBO sees inflation averaging 2.2% within that timeframe.

Yes, but: It will still be another three years before there are as many employed Americans as there were before the pandemic hit.

Between the lines: The projections don't factor in the stimulus measures proposed by the Biden White House — and there are questions about whether these rosy forecasts could hurt the administration's case for additional stimulus.

  • The CBO said the $900 billion relief bill signed into law in December would boost the level of real GDP by 1.5% this year and next — though the bulk of the impact will happen in 2021.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Feb 1, 2021 - Economy & Business

Trump's trade war on China was a failure in every possible way

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Biden administration plans to review the phase one U.S.-China trade deal, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday. Based on publicly available data, it's hard to imagine they'll find anything other than a debacle.

Driving the news: China isn't even close to fulfilling its end of the deal — having come up 42% short of its commitment, Chad Bown, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, reported late last week.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Feb 1, 2021 - Economy & Business

New home prices hit record high at end of 2020

Expand chart
Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of new homes sold in the U.S. reached its highest since 2006 last year, at 811,000, which is an 18.8% increase over 2019, the Commerce Department estimated.

The big picture: In December, new-home sales rose for the first time in five months, with the median price of a home reaching an all-time high of $355,900.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
20 mins ago - Health

Overturning Roe could strain abortion access even in blue states

The Supreme Court is reflected in a woman's sunglasses during a march Oct. 2. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortions could be harder to access even in states where they remain legal, because those clinics could be flooded with patients from states that have cracked down.

The big picture: This has happened before, and clinics fear the crush of demand would be a major problem in the immediate wake of a decision that would allow states to ban abortion.