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Forecasters split on when US economy will return to pre-pandemic levels

Forecasters split on when US economy will return to pre-pandemic levels

October 5, 2020

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Forecasters were mixed when it comes to when the US economy will return to pre-pandemic levels, according to the National Association for Business Economics’ “October 2020 NABE Outlook” report is based on a panel of 52 professional forecasters.

“NABE panelists have become more optimistic, on balance, but remain concerned about a potential second wave of Covid-19,” said Outlook Survey Chair Eugenio Aleman, economist, Wells Fargo Bank.

“Thirty-eight percent of panelists believe that the economy will have returned to pre-pandemic GDP levels by the second half of 2021,” Aleman said, “32% expect it to reach that level in the first half of 2022, and 30% believe it will occur in the second half of 2022 or later.”

This year, the panel foresees annualized growth of 25.0% in the third quarter for the US economy and annualized GDP growth of 4.9% in the fourth quarter. The growth remains short of the 31.4% collapse in inflation-adjusted GDP during the second quarter.

Panelists also expect monthly nonfarm employment to decline by 670,000 on average this year. The median forecast for job gains in 2021 is 350,000 per month, down from the 497,000 projected in an earlier survey in June.

Four out of 10 panelists indicate that 5% of jobs lost during the pandemic will be permanently lost.