4.8% decline? The bad economic numbers hide a worse story

Posted at 9:45 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 23:46:10-04

The economy shrinking at a 4.8 percent annual clip for the first quarter of 2020 is bad news. It's the first time we've seen a quarter of decline since 2014, and that was just a blip.

Unfortunately, there's a simple reason why these numbers actually paint a rosy picture compared to the reality in the U.S. now. The economy was growing through early to mid-March, when social distancing and stay home directives took effect. It wasn't until late March that unemployment started to spike, and the biggest job losses happened at the end of March and in April.

The federal numbers show a slight growth in income from the last quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020. Lost wages and unemployment predicted by the Congressional Budget Office to level off at about 15% will lead to worse numbers in the 2nd quarter of 2020.