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.

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Ina Fried, author of Login
Oct 22, 2020 - Technology

Intel shares drop sharply despite mostly solid earnings report

Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Shares of Intel fell as much 10% in after-hours trading Thursday — after the company posted quarterly revenue and earnings generally in line with expectations.

Why it matters: The chip giant is a bellwether for the PC industry, and small signs of weakness may be playing an outsize role in spooking investors.

Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

Joe Biden speaks Friday about "The Biden Plan to Beat COVID-19," at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.