The U.S. economy just experienced the biggest contraction since the Great Recession

A sign alerts customers that a business in Queens is closed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The coronavirus pandemic has dealt the U.S. economy its biggest quarterly contraction since the Great Recession.

The Commerce Department on Wednesday said that the economy contracted 4.8 percent during the first quarter of 2020, the worst decline in a quarter since 2008, The Washington Post reports. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the economy contracted 8.4 percent. This was the first quarterly drop in gross domestic product in six years, The Associated Press also notes.

The 4.8 percent number was worse than the 3.5 percent that economists were expecting, but experts warn the second quarter will be far more bleak, as the Post notes a decline of more than 30 percent is expected. Businesses in the United States began to close their doors near the end of the first quarter of 2020, and CNBC notes the latest Commerce Department numbers only factor in a few weeks of this shutdown.

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These numbers come after data from the Labor Department showed that more than 26 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims over the past five weeks, meaning all of the job gains since the Great Recession have been wiped out.

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