The Trump Administration reported Wednesday that U.S. economic output shrank by 4.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, the first official estimate of the serious negative impact from the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
It was the largest step for the U.S. economy since the end of 2008, as job losses mounted in the aftermath of the Wall Street Collapse.
How much worse the figures get will depend on how long the nation is held back by the virus, which has resulted in shuttered businesses all over the nation, along with massive job losses.
“We're going to see economic data for the second quarter that's worse than any data we've seen for the economy,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
“It's going to be a time of sharp contraction of economic activity,” Powell added.
Since states began ordering residents to stay at home and limit their social activities, more than 22 million Americans have filed first time claims for unemployment benefits.
"This number is just the tip of the iceberg," said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). "March’s drop is offset here by earlier months, and April was so much worse."
Before the arrival of the Coronavirus, economic activity had been plugging along in the U.S., with growth at 2.1 percent in both the third and fourth quarters of 2019.
And the first quarter in the U.S. was expected to be much the same.
But starting in mid-March, almost everything went off the rails.
“It's an extraordinary, extraordinary shock,” the Federal Reserve Chairman told a video news conference on Wednesday.
Asked how long the economic downturn would last, Powell said the answer is simply about the success of stopping the Coronavirus.
“How long will it take to get under control? Will there be additional outbreaks?” Powell asked, not knowing the answers to those questions.