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COVID-19 scenarios: Worst economic impact from resurgence in the fall

The trajectory of COVID-19 and the economic response over the next few months are uncertain. To help businesses navigate this volatile period, The Conference Board has developed and updated four scenarios for the US economy for the remainder of 2020:

May reboot (quick recovery): New COVID-19 cases for the US peak by mid-April. Economic activity may gradually recover in May, beginning with the most impacted sectors, such as restaurants and travel. Even in this optimistic scenario, annual GDP growth contracts by 3.6 percent.

Summertime V-shape (deeper contraction, bigger recovery): New COVID-19 cases peak in early May, creating a deep economic contraction in Q2, especially for consumption. While we may see a strong recovery in Q3, annual GDP growth will still contract by as much as 6.6 percent.

Fall recovery (extended contraction, U-shaped recovery): Government policies, such as social distancing, help to “flatten the curve” but extend economic weakness to Q3. The recovery will be slower but more controlled than in the “Summer V-shape” scenario, giving businesses more time to prepare for the recovery. GDP contracts by 6.5 percent.

Fall COVID-19 resurgence (economy contracts again in Q4, a W-shaped recovery): Attempts to keep new COVID-19 cases under control in the fall fail, requiring the reimplementation of stringent measures in October. The economy would begin to contract again in Q4, following a recovery in Q3. Annual GDP growth contracts to 7.4 percent—substantially more than in all other scenarios.

Access a full description of the scenarios here.


Our Experts

Thought leaders who provide trusted insights for navigating companies and the economy though COVID-19.


Bart van Ark

Managing Director and Principal Investigator


Lynn Franco

Director, Economic Indicators and Surveys


Ataman Ozyildirim

Senior Director, Economics and Global Research Chair


Matteo Tonello

Managing Director, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)


Gad Levanon, PhD

Vice President, Labor Markets


David Hoffman

Senior Vice President Asia and Managing Director of the China Center for Economics & Business

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Rebecca L. Ray, PhD

Executive Vice President, Human Capital

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Anke Schrader

Research Director, the China Center for Economics and Business


Amy Lui Abel, PhD

Vice President, Human Capital Research


Thomas Singer

Principal Researcher


Dr. Uwe G. Schulte

Leader, Global Sustainability Centre and Program Director


Paul Washington

Executive Director, ESG Center


Ilaria Maselli

Senior Economist


Amanda Popiela

Researcher, Human Capital


Elizabeth Crofoot

Senior Economist


John Forsyth

Consumer Dynamics Leader, M&C Center


Cindy Cisneros

Vice President of Education Programs

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Steve Odland

President and CEO


Jeff Hoffman

Institute Leader, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy, ESG Center


Joseph J. Minarik

Senior Vice President and Director of Research


Erik Lundh

Principal Economist


Robin Erickson, PhD

Principal Researcher, Human Capital


JP Kuehlwein

Marketing Leader, M&C Center


Denise Dahlhoff, PhD

Senior Researcher, Consumer Research

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Laura Sabattini, PhD

Principal Researcher, Human Capital

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Robert Schwarz

Senior Researcher, ESG Center


Chiqui Cartagena

Former Chief Marketing Officer & Center Leader, Marketing & Communications

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Dr. Mahdy Al Jazzaf

Executive Director


Devin O’Connor

Former Deputy Director, Economic Research



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