The U.S. economy grew at an unrivaled pace in the third quarter as the government poured out more than $3 trillion worth of pandemic relief which fueled consumer spending, but the deep scars from the COVID-19 recession could take a year or more to heal.
Gross domestic product rebounded at a 33.1 per cent annualized rate last quarter, the Commerce Department said in its advance estimate on Thursday. That was the fastest pace since the government started keeping records in 1947 and followed a historic shrinkage rate of 31.4 per cent in the second quarter.
The GDP report – one of the last major economic scorecards before next week’s presidential election – will do little to mitigate the human tragedy inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, with tens of millions Americans still unemployed and more than 222,000 dead.
With five days remaining to election day, U.S. President Donald Trump, trailing in most national opinion polls, will probably seize on the stunning rebound in GDP as a sign of recovery. But U.S. output remains below its level in the fourth quarter of 2019, a fact Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden is almost certain to highlight along with signs that the growth spurt is fast petering out.