U.S. Economy Slumped in First Quarter: Live Updates

NPR

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And the economic toll has hit so suddenly that it is hard to compare directly with anything in memory this morning the commerce department shows how quickly the economy has crashed and the new NPR poll shows how widely the painting is sprint NPR chief economics correspondent Scott Horsley is with us along with NPR senior political editor and correspondent to medical Montanaro gentleman good morning to you both good morning morning Steve and we are all properly distant in our own homes Scott how bad is the GDP number likely to be for the first quarter what we learned today forecasters expect the GDP report this one will show the US economy shrank during the first three months of the year for the first time in six years and worse that's all because of the corona virus for the first two and a half months of the year the economy is actually chugging along at a steady if not spectacular pace but then we got to the middle of March and there was a sharp and sudden downturn that's of course when restaurants and retail shops all over the country store to close their doors tens of millions of Americans were ordered to stay home been hers on who is an economist with IHS Markit says that triggered a sharp decline in consumer spending and that alone was enough to erase whatever gross income before whenever you have the entire country changing behavior at one time in a way that would be suspending it certainly enough to wipe out any gains that we saw earlier in the year her son is expecting that the first quarter growth declined at an annual pace of almost five percent and some forecasters expect even bigger number I'm just trying to think through the math two months two and a half months of pretty good growth and then just two weeks everything being stopped and the stoppage is so bad that the total is down sharply that makes me worry about the second quarter that we're in now where things are going to be stopped for a whole lot longer yeah that's what's kind of scary just half a month of hunkering down sent the economy into reverse what happened this quarter when we're looking at you know a full month in some parts the quarter of more than that in other parts of the country economists expect to see a really deep contraction in the second quarter when those numbers come out in the summer her is not expected to show the economy shrinking at an annual pace of thirty seven percent between April and June you know in just the last five weeks we've seen some twenty six million people are joining the unemployment rolls millions more could be added to that list before we're done this is all shaping up to be the deepest recession in the US since the nineteen thirties okay so those are the overall numbers what do they mean for individuals we have some clues about that from an NPR PBS newshour Marist poll and Domenico what does it say on sticking a pretty harsh toll on most people fifty percent of Americans say they've either been laid off or lost hours at their job because of it that's up from just eighteen percent a month ago and the pandemic is having a harsher financial impact on people of color people without a college degree younger people and those making less than fifty thousand dollars a year Steve let me stop there for a second because you just said fifty percent which is a mind blowing figure half of Americans have you lost a job or lost some kind of pay lost part of their paycheck and you're telling me in certain groups it's even worse than that worse than fifty percent absolutely we're talking about household here so at least fifty percent of Americans or fifty percent Americans have been touched by this and you know Americans are large largely pretty cautious also though about re opening too quickly you would think people would want to you know open much faster if they're being affected economically but eighty percent or more of Americans are saying that they do not want schools restaurants are large sporting events to start taking place again as normal until there is further testing two thirds say they don't want us to physically go back to work without widespread testing but a majority of Republicans say it's time to get back to work so there is a partisan difference here and some of these findings in the way people view your vents up to now as always there are some partisan findings in in a lot of these numbers well what do voters think of the president's handling of the economy in this election year well about forty four percent of trump's approve of trump's handling of the pandemic is pretty similar to what his overall approval has been we talk about this partisan splits you've got Democrats and independents disapproving and Republicans largely very strongly approving of the job the president's been doing on current virus most people think the other governors are doing a far better jobs in the present and handling corona virus by two to one margin and overall they're huge gender and educational divides on how trump's handling it men approve of how trump is dealing with it women overwhelmingly disapprove if you have a college degree you overwhelmingly disapprove if you don't you do approve of the job he's doing I think it's slightly higher marks for his handling of the economy half still approving of the job he's doing on that but I have to say it's interesting when you look at the twenty twenty election the presidential election more Americans think Joe Biden the democratic the presumptive democratic nominee would do a better job handling both of those things I just have to observe also after nine eleven George W. bush also polarizing president had something like a ninety percent approval rating for a little while because of his handling of the crisis in here the president has forty four percent but we are now moving toward a new phase where academies might begin to re open at least a little bit in certain states what might that recovery look like Scott Horsley you know the commerce department numbers look backwards not forwards but the kind of Mr certainly trying to figure out what's ahead economist her son's been looking at industries like airlines and restaurants which have been hit so hard by this pandemic there's really nowhere to go but up traffic is down ninety five percent from year ago levels seated diners from OpenTable is down a hundred percent you can't go lower than that you know all these indicators are a really bad right now at some point they'll turn we'll just have to keep an eye on on when that happens best case scenario if the economy starts to stabilize this summer and then we begin to see a rebound later in the year but it depends you know if there's a big danger but the second wave of infections that requires another round of lockdowns then I guess we have to ask if by then we've found measures to get businesses open and keep them open safely and safely enough that consumers would think that it's safe to go out and shop or go to the restaurant or anything else that's

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