The U.S. economy likely contracted in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession as stringent measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus almost shut down the country, ending the longest expansion in the nation’s history.FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks walk past closed shops on the the Coney Island boardwalk during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., April 11, 2020. Picture taken April 11, 2020. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
The anticipated decline in gross domestic product (GDP) will reflect a plunge in economic activity in the last two weeks of March, which saw millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits. The Commerce Department’s snapshot of first-quarter GDP on Wednesday will reinforce analysts’ predictions that the economy was already in a deep recession.