First quarter 2020 GDP: U.S. economy contracted for the first time in six years

Aruba, April 30, 2020 – U.S. gross domestic product turned negative for the first time since 2014 in the first three months of the year as the coronavirus pandemic broadened out across the globe and country in March, dragging output to a near standstill and driving a deep contraction in consumer spending.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its advance estimate of first-quarter 2020 GDP Wednesday morning. Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus expectations compiled by Bloomberg:

  • 1Q GDP annualized, QoQ: -4.8% vs. -4.0% expected, +2.1% in 4Q 2019
  • 1Q Personal consumption: -7.6% vs. -3.6% expected, +1.8% in 4Q 2019
  • 1Q Core PCE QoQ: +1.8% vs. +1.7% expected, +1.3% in 4Q 2019

Estimates for the size of the first-quarter contraction spanned a wide range, as economists grappled to assess the extent of the damage caused by an unprecedented set of business operational halts and widespread stay-in-place orders.

The reported 4.8% contraction in GDP was the largest drop since late 2008.

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