COVID-19

Could the third quarter of this year be the “fastest-growing in U.S. history”?

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst May 26, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Several people in the Trump administration, including White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, above, have said that there could be historic growth in the third quarter of this year. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
COVID-19

Could the third quarter of this year be the “fastest-growing in U.S. history”?

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst May 26, 2020
Several people in the Trump administration, including White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, above, have said that there could be historic growth in the third quarter of this year. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday morning, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said “the third quarter of this year could be the fastest-growing quarter in U.S. history.”

With retail sales down more than 16% last month, the unemployment rate up where it hasn’t been since the Great Depression, and so much uncertainty about what will happen as states reopen their economies, could that be true?

We called economist Megan Greene, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School, to help us out. 

“So I think that as the economy opens up, we should see the economic data improve,” Greene said. “Depending on how you’re looking at that data, it will either improve a little or it will improve a lot.” 

Quarterly economic growth, the increase in gross domestic product, is typically expressed as a percentage. For example, the Congressional Budget Office predicts there could be a 5.4% increase in GDP in the third quarter of 2020. However, that will be a percentage increase from the second quarter of this year, which is widely expected to be one of the worst in U.S. history

“The next quarter compared to this one will look really good because it’s compared to a really bad quarter,” Greene said. “What we need to do is compare where we are right now to where we were before this crisis even started.” 

Click the audio player above to hear the full explanation. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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