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

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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