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Source: FRED; Billions of chained 2012 dollars; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the last major economic report cards of the Trump era lends perspective to the historic damage caused by the pandemic, which continued to weigh on growth in the final quarter of 2020.

By the numbers: The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annualized pace in the fourth quarter, a sharp slowdown in growth compared to the prior quarter. For the full year, the economy shrank by 3.5% — the first annual contraction since the financial crisis and the worst decline since 1946.

What happened: A resurgence in coronavirus cases and a delay in additional government aid contributed to the pullback in growth. In the third quarter, the U.S. economy grew at a 33.4% annualized pace.

  • In normal times, a 4% annualized growth rate would be strong. But in pandemic times, it shows the sharp bounce back expected once the economy reopened wasn't sustained.

What they're saying: The report "represents a major disappointment and hit to the nascent recovery in the domestic economy," Joseph Brusuelas, an economist at RSM, wrote in a note.

Zoom in: Economic growth in the final quarter of the year was driven by strong consumer spending, capital expenditures (i.e. businesses investing in equipment, buildings, etc.) and the hot housing sector.

  • It was dragged down by a slump in state, local and federal government spending and a surge in imports (which are a curb on GDP).

The bottom line: The U.S. economy remains in a deep hole and a full economic recovery is a ways off. The economy is still over $473 billion smaller than it was before the pandemic hit.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

Chevron posts another quarterly loss under weight of pandemic

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Chevron posted another quarterly loss Friday in the latest sign of how the pandemic is still weighing on oil companies despite some price recovery during the second half of the year.

Driving the news: The oil giant reported a $665 million loss for the October-December period, but it shrinks to $11 million on an adjusted basis after considering charges on its acquisition of Noble Energy and "foreign currency effects."

1 hour ago - World

Zelensky questions U.S. warnings of "imminent" invasion in Biden call

Biden and Zelensky at the White House last October. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a back-and-forth in their call this evening about just how "imminent" the threat of a Russian invasion might be, according to three sources briefed on the call.

Why it matters: Biden has said previously that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably "move in" to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday afternoon that "an invasion could come at any time."

Democrats stiff Biden as poll numbers hit low point

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Democrats in swing states and vulnerable districts in this year's pivotal midterms are distancing themselves from President Biden on social media as his poll numbers hit their lowest point.

Why it matters: The digital distance is one sign of the concern candidates feel about a person they'd normally embrace. Incumbent presidents — including one who believes he needs to come to their hometowns to sell his message — would normally be political gold for candidates from the same party.