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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

Unemployment plunges as the pandemic continues

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

Here's the good news for workers: The unemployment rate fell by a full percentage point to 6.9% last month — in the face of rising coronavirus cases, continued pressure on businesses, and no economic relief in sight from the government.

The bad news: That rapid snapback in employment after initial economic lockdowns eased is over. Job growth has slowed every month since June.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Nov 5, 2020 - Economy & Business

The U.S. is as corporate tax-friendly as it's ever been

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Corporate taxes are lower, as a percentage of GDP, then they've ever been. And they're likely to stay there, if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to bring any tax-hike bills to the floor.

By the numbers: Before 2018, corporate income taxes had fallen below 1% of GDP only once, for three quarters at the nadir of the Great Recession in 2008-09.

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Cuomo's former chief counsel joins calls for him to resign after damning report

Photo: Spencer Platt/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) former chief counsel joined top Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday in calling for him to resign after an independent investigation concluded the governor sexually harassed multiple women in violation of federal and state law.

The latest: Alphonso David, who is now president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, called the report authored by investigators "devastating" and echoed others' comments in decrying Cuomo's "pattern of sexual harassment."