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The Recession in Perspective

This feature illustrates the unique imprint that COVID has had on different sectors of the economy. The tools below use sectoral data on employment (BLS) and output (BEA) so the user can compare varying impact across sectors during different recessions.


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Workers in “Leisure and hospitality” sector have been devastated by COVID. Almost half of the 17 million workers in that sector lost their jobs in the pandemic’s first two months, and many jobs have yet to return. In sharp contrast, jobs initially declined by only 3% in the “Financial activities” sector and most of those jobs have since returned.

Change in employment by industry

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Filter by industry:
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Why sectors matter

Industry sectors are like onion layers of the economy, each an important part of the whole, but also an independent portion growing at its own rate.

About the data

The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research determines the beginning and ending dates of U.S. recessions. This page provides a current assessment of “how bad” the current 2020 recession is relative to past post-WWII recessions, and how quickly the economy is recovering relative to past recoveries. It will continue to be updated as new data are released. This page does not provide forecasts, and the information should not be interpreted as such.