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an economic crisis but because of a health crisis,” Costello said. “And to fully get back to where we were, as an economy, we have to have some sort of health solution.”


The health solution, he noted, is not only about a vaccine for COVID-19 — the virus that has led to more than 200,000 American deaths in 2020 — but also how the world finds a comprehensive solution to care for the sick. “Once


changed as the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping consumer habits in a way that has benefited the trucking industry — unlike past recessions that hampered it.


The U.S. economy has seen two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth in 2020, which Costello said is the unofficial definition of a recession. The official declaration of recession is made by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a group of economists who decide when economic expansions or contractions officially began and end. A recession is based on four main indicators: industrial production, business sales, personal income, and nonfarm payrolls.


Costello said all of these indicators dropped drastically in the spring but are on the upswing this fall. “My point is the recession, in all likelihood — even though this group has not come out and officially declared it — the recession is likely over,” he said before adding: “The question then becomes, are we headed on a track where we don’t fall back into a double-dip? As of now, I think that’s the case.”


But what happens in the coming months will determine this. The more than a decade’s long economic expansion, the longest in U.S. history, “ended not because of


® 19


we get a worldwide health solution to this problem, we can start to get back in all facets to where we were in the economy,” Costello said.


After a 5% decrease in real GDP during the first quarter of 2020, the U.S. saw a 31.7% drop in GDP during the second quarter. Before the nearly 32% drop during the spring quarter, the largest quarterly GDP decrease on record was a 10% drop in 1958 based on quarterly records that go back to 1947. That drop, which Costello called “unprecedented,” leads to “an unprecedented increase in the third quarter,” which he forecasts to be up nearly 30%. The ATA economist expects the 2020 fourth quarter, which began Oct. 1, to see a 2.5% GDP growth, followed by a 3.3% first quarter growth in 2021, which are both closer to long-run averages for the U.S. economy.


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