Warp Speed: COVID-19 Recession Was Shortest in U.S. History

Former US President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Andy JACOBSOHN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY JACOBSOHN/AFP via Getty Images)
ANDY JACOBSOHN/AFP via Getty Images

So much for the idea that the Trump administration hurt the U.S. economy through its response to the pandemic.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, a private nonprofit research organization that tracks the beginnings and endings of U.S. recessions, said the coronavirus-induced contraction began in February 2020 and ended in April 2020.

That makes it the shortest recession ever recorded in U.S. history.

A recession occurs when there’s a decline in gross domestic product over consecutive months.

The NBER said that although U.S. GDP declined by a dramatic 31% in the second quarter of 2020, government stimulus policies helped stabilize the economy.

“The recession lasted two months, which makes it the shortest U.S. recession on record,” the bureau said in a statement. “The previous shortest recession occurred in the first half of 1980 and lasted six months.”

Normally, a recession is defined by a decline in economic activity that lasts for more than a few months. But the NBER said last year’s two-month decline was deep enough to qualify as a recession.

“The recent downturn had different characteristics and dynamics than prior recessions,” it said. “Nonetheless, the committee concluded that the unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warranted the designation of this episode as a recession, even though the downturn was briefer than earlier contractions.”

The NBER said many U.S. economic indicators have returned to prepandemic levels. It said employment, however, continues to lag — as there are still more than 7 million workers missing from the workforce compared to February 2020.

The establishment media repeatedly claimed the U.S. economy was suffering due to the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic. Often, the U.S. economy was falsely said to be doing worse than peers in Europe and Asia. Joe Biden repeated this falsehood on the campaign trail.

In fact, the U.S. economy emerged from lockdowns stronger than peers because of policies put in place by the Trump administration both before and during the pandemic.

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