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US economy shrank at annualized rate of 5 percent in first quarter

US economy shrank at annualized rate of 5 percent in first quarter
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The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized rate of 5 percent in the first quarter of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic triggered an unprecedented economic collapse, according to data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday.

U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) fell at an annualized rate of 5 percent between January and March, according to the third estimate of quarterly economic growth released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The BEA previously estimated first-quarter GDP to have dropped by an annualized rate of 5 percent in a May projection and 4.8 percent in its April estimate.

The pandemic forced thousands of businesses across the U.S. to close or severely restrict operations to slow the spread of COVID-19, pushing the unemployment rate to a record high of 14.7 percent and shutting down wide swaths of the U.S. economy. 

The first-quarter drop in GDP was the steepest seen in the U.S. since the Great Recession, but only covered the start of the coronavirus-driven pandemic. Economists expect GDP to have fallen by an annualized rate of up to 40 percent in the second quarter, which covered the depths of the downturn.

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