US gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, is forecast to have grown at an annualized rate of 4% between October and December.
In a normal year, that would be something to celebrate — an A+ for Trump’s final economic report card. But 2020 was no normal year.
So if 33.4% isn’t good enough, 4% sure ain’t gonna cut it, either. It would get the nation only a small part of the way back to its pre-pandemic strength — underscoring just how far we still have to go.
A bad sign for 2021
Rising infections and renewed restrictions on people and businesses put a damper on hopes for the recovery in the winter months.
The first quarter of 2021 “is likely to be even weaker with little reason to expect a sudden upswing in activity until Covid restrictions are meaningfully eased,” said James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, even with more help for the unemployed in place.
Biden will need to bring the pandemic under control first to get the recovery on the right path.
What’s holding the economy back?
Economists have been concerned about the state of the recovery for a while. Rising infections in the fall and a renewed increase in weekly claims for jobless benefits pointed to another rough patch for the economy in the winter.
The rollout of vaccines and ultimate control of the virus is what will truly transport the economy back to its pre-pandemic strength, economists believe. But only about 23.5 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States so far.
Meanwhile, those who lost their jobs or had their hours or pay reduced because of the pandemic still require help from the government.