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U.S. economy grew by 4% in fourth quarter, positive sign in pandemic-stricken 2020

The U.S. economy posted its worst year for growth since World War II

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Volunteers shopping for groceries.
Volunteers shopping for groceries.
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Updated: January 28, 2021 - 10:26am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

U.S. gross domestic product increased at a 4% pace in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The increase was slight lower than the projected 4.3% growth.

Overall, the U.S. economy shrank by 3.5% in 2020 as the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic ravaged American businesses and personal finances. The loss marks the worst year for the domestic economy growth  since World War II.

Also Thursday, the Labor Department reported that first-time claims for jobless benefits totaled 847,000 last week, less than the 875,000 expected by economists polled by Dow Jones, according to NBC News.

2020 is the first year the U.S. economy has shrunk since 2009, when it contracted by 2.5% during the depths of the Great Recession. The year was plagued by astounding job losses and floods of small-business closures. 

Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell said Wednesday that "there is good evidence to support a stronger economy in the second half of this year," but placed continued emphasis on vaccinating as many Americans as possible against the novel coronavirus. 

The Fed continues to buy at least $120 billion in bonds a month in order to keep economic activity flowing, and has plans to maintain a low interest rate environment. 

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