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GDP decreased 3.5% in 2020, the lowest growth rate since 1946.

GDP has grown 2.1% on average over the past 20 years, but it fell from $21.7 trillion in 2019 to $20.9 trillion in 2020.​

Despite the pandemic, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ stock indexes reached all-time highs at the end of 2020.​


The average annual unemployment rate in 2020 was 8.1%, lower than the annual averages during the Great Recession in 2009 (9.3%), 2010 (9.6%), and 2011 (8.9%).

However, the labor force participation rate, or the percentage of the working-age population that is either employed or seeking work, fell to 61.7%, the lowest since 1976.


Nearly 25 million Americans were on unemployment insurance in May, the highest point during the pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, 1-2 million people are on unemployment at any given time. Washington, DC, California, Hawaii, and Nevada had the highest rates of unemployment claims per capita; Idaho, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming had the lowest.


The economy lost 9.4 million jobs in 2020, a 6.2% decrease from 2019. That’s larger than the 3.7% drop from 2008 to 2009 during the Great Recession.

The leisure and hospitality sector lost the most jobs: 3.7 million (down 22%). The government sector lost 1.3 million (down 6%) and the education and health services sector lost 1.2 million (down 5%).


At the end of 2020, 74% of small businesses reported experiencing negative effects from COVID-19, and 73% of small businesses reported receiving a Paycheck Protection Program loan.

Education, accommodation and food services, health care and arts and entertainment felt the greatest negative effects.


Prior to the pandemic, median wages increased 1.2% from 2018 to 2019.

They're up 2.2% since 2004. Holding company wages increased 21% since 2004, while transportation wages decreased 10% and retail wages increased 0.1%. ​

Economy and Jobs

The US imported $679 billion more in goods and services than it exported in 2020, an 18% increase in the trade deficit from 2019.

The US trade deficit with China in the third quarter of 2020 was $75 billion, a 1% decrease from the same time in 2019.

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