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U.S. economy grew 4% in Q4, but 2020 saw biggest decline since WWII

By Jean Lotus
U.S. economy grew 4% in Q4, but 2020 saw biggest decline since WWII
The New York Stock Exchange is seen Wednesday on Wall Street in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy declined by nearly 4% for all of 2020, according to government figures on Thursday -- the worst single-year performance since the end of World War II.

The Commerce Department noted the figures in its fourth-quarter report, which also summarized economic performance for the year.

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According to the data, gross domestic product declined by 3.5% over 2020, the worst yearly decline since at least 1945 when the government began keeping records.

By comparison, the U.S. economy grew by 2.2% in 2019.

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The figures for the final quarter show how the domestic economy performed throughout all of 2020 -- a 5% decline in the first quarter, a record 31.4% dive in the second and a 33.4% rebound in the third.

"The increase in fourth quarter GDP reflected both the continued economic recovery from the sharp declines earlier in the year and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including new restrictions and closures that took effect in some areas of the United States," the department said in the report.

Consumer prices increased by 1.7% in the fourth quarter and disposable personal income improved somewhat with a decrease of 9.5%. In the third quarter, that decline was over 16%.

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The report noted other areas of growth, including housing prices.

The Federal Reserve said at the end of its policy meeting Wednesday that economic recovery is tied to the success of coronavirus vaccinations.

"The economic dislocation has abandoned many lives and created great uncertainty about the future," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said.

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"Something like 9 million people remain unemployed as a consequence of the pandemic. That's as many people lost their jobs at the peak of the global financial crisis."

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