Americans are cutting back on spending as they plan for a recession that might not end until the coronavirus pandemic is over.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

The US economy plunged a record-breaking 32.9% in the second quarter, according to data released by the Commerce Department (PDF) this week, further entrenching the country in what’s being called the “fastest recession in US history.” Experts caution, however, that recovering from the coronavirus recession isn’t going to be nearly so swift, even with another stimulus bill and a second stimulus check.

The problem? After spending the better part of March and April under almost total lockdown, the US began a haphazard reopening process that public health experts say resulted in a surge of new coronavirus infections. State governments across the US then slammed the brakes on their reopening plans and many even reversed course, closing businesses like bars and restaurants just weeks after they reopened their doors.

To make matters worse, If you’re among the millions who’ve experienced personal financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many of the economic safeguards put into place at the start of the lockdown — eviction bans, enhanced unemployment benefits and a one-time stimulus check that went out to most Americans — have either dried up or will soon

So, what does the road to economic recovery look like from here? We’ve put together the latest news about the coronavirus recession, where to find help, what makes a recession and the government’s response. Note that this story is intended to provide an overview, not to serve as financial advice. It updates frequently as the situation develops. 

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Latest coronavirus recession news

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When will the recession end?

Unfortunately, we don’t have answers to that question. From an economist’s point of view, a recession ends when certain market requirements are met. From a personal point of view, you might wonder most about your ability to work, pay your bills and secure your financial future. 

Economists and experts agree that the economy won’t recover until the coronavirus pandemic is contained — without triggering another wave of infections when lockdown measures are released. That’ll happen either through herd immunity, an effective treatment for COVID-19, a coronavirus vaccine or some combination of all three.

Several vaccine candidates have shown promise in human trials. Even so, it may still be another year or longer before anything is approved for widespread use. The development of a coronavirus vaccine is fast-paced and details change daily.

How the government has tried to bolster the economy

The $2 trillion stimulus package passed as part of the CARES Act in March represents the US government’s first attempt at thwarting a recession. The economic relief law included stimulus payments of up to $1,200 for most US taxpayers, as well as a loan program for businesses to keep paying their employees. 

A debate over a second stimulus check is currently working its way through Congress, but still appears weeks away from being finalized. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has indicated it will continue to hold interest rates close to 0% for the foreseeable future, which often has the effect of encouraging more borrowing, which leads to more spending — and more spending generally improves the economy.


Spending money at locally owned businesses (while wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing) can help keep your economy afloat during the recession.

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How can I help?

It’s easy to feel helpless, but if you’re feeling financially secure or have time to give, there are ways to make a difference. My CNET colleague Katie Conner has some excellent recommendations for things you can do to help your local community and businesses, including no-cost contributions like online volunteering or donating blood, as well as ordering take-out or delivery, and buying restaurant gift cards. 

Other local businesses like bookstores, gardening centers, toy shops and boutiques may have a website where you can support them with a curbside order, if they remain closed.

The best advice I’ve heard so far about how you can individually help prop up the economy is this: Spend to the best of your ability and within your means.

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