Think back to mid-March 2020. Coronavirus cases were beginning to spike in New York, Washington and California. Much of the U.S. went into lockdown, shutting down vast swaths of the economy. Over the next few months, as the pandemic spread and deaths mounted, millions lost their jobs and the economy sank into the deepest recession on record.

It turns out that it was also the shortest, according to an elite group of economists who this week officially declared the end of the 2020 recession. Jay Zagorsky, an economist at Boston University, explains the meaning of recession, why it took them so long to call it and the role of trillions of dollars in coronavirus aid in ending the downturn after only two months.

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Bryan Keogh

Senior Editor, Economy + Business

The U.S. economy bounced back in record time. Ambre Haller/Moment via Getty Images

COVID-19 recession: One of America’s deepest downturns was also its shortest after bailout-driven bounceback

Jay L. Zagorsky, Boston University

An economist explains what a recession is, who decides and why it took so long to learn that the COVID-19 downturn was officially over.

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