Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized 32.9% rate in the second quarter — the worst-ever contraction on records that date back to 1947, the government said on Thursday.

Why it matters: Widespread lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the economy in a way that's never been seen in modern times, and hope for a swift recovery has been dashed as cases have surged nationwide.

Between the lines: The staggering contraction beats the last record set in 1958, when GDP shrank at an annualized 10% rate.

The big picture: The GDP report puts a number on the unprecedented damage we saw playing out in real-time from April to June: millions of jobs lost, tens of thousands of shuttered businesses and a record halt in activity.

  • "As horrific as the GDP number is, it's basically reporting something that we all already knew — that economic activity came to a screeching halt as the virus altered the contours of our lives. Millions lost their jobs, and the real issue is how our economy recovers," economist Justin Wolfers tweeted.
  • More recent data shows a renewed economic slowdown alongside worsening outbreaks across the country.

Worth noting: U.S. government data always "annualizes" the quarterly GDP figures — meaning the number assumes the pace the economy grew or shrunk last quarter will continue over the year.

  • Because the economy experienced a swift, marked deterioration in the second quarter that's unlikely to be repeated, economists are also looking at another figure: how much the economy shrank from the first quarter to the second quarter, which came in at -9.5% — still, the worst on record by that measure.

The bottom line: Any way you slice it, it's an ugly, historic economic contraction.

Go deeper

Household debt and credit delinquencies dropped during Q2

Reproduced from New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans cut back on credit cards and increased savings during the worst three-month economic period in U.S. history, as household debt fell for the first time in six years, data from the New York Fed showed.

By the numbers: Total debt declined 0.2% to $14.27 trillion in the second quarter, led by a $76 billion drop in outstanding credit-card balances.

Jobs of the future aren't exempt from the pandemic recession

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The wave of unemployment connected to the pandemic even includes jobs that had been set to grow in a more digitally enabled future.

The big picture: The pandemic has accelerated shifts in the job market that will prioritize digital skills of all kinds. But the sheer job destruction of the past few months is so great that even the best-prepared fields haven't escaped losses.

Pelosi, Schumer say July jobs report underscores need for next coronavirus stimulus

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer argued Friday that July's jobs report showcased the urgent need for Congress to pass another coronavirus stimulus.

The state of play: Congressional Democrats and Republicans remain miles apart on stimulus talks as the August recess looms. Schumer and Pelosi have argued for another massive package while Republicans eye a more pared-back solution — and President Trump has threatened executive action amid the logjam.