The U.S. economy suffered its sharpest downturn since at leastthe 1940s in the second quarter, highlighting how the pandemic has ravaged businesses across thecountry and left millions of Americans out of work.

Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 9.5 percent in the secondquarter from the first, a drop that equals an annualized pace of 32.9percent, the Commerce Department's initial estimate showed onThursday. That's the steepest annualized decline in quarterlyrecords dating back to 1947 and compares with analyst estimates fora 34.5 percent contraction. Personal spending, which makes up abouttwo-thirds of GDP, slumped by an annualized 34.6 percent, also themost on record.

The figures lay bare the extent of the economic devastation thatresulted from the government-ordered shutdowns and stay-at-homeorders designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, whichabruptly brought a halt to the long-running expansion. Whileemployment, spending, and production have improved since reopeningspicked up in May and massive federal stimulus reached Americans, arecent surge in infections has tempered the pace of therecovery.

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