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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.

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Our Experts

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

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Bart van Ark

Executive Vice President & Global Chief Economist; Program Director, CFO: Fortune 250 Council

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Lynn Franco

Director, Economic Indicators and Surveys

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Ataman Ozyildirim, PhD

Director, Economic Research, and Global Research Chair

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Matteo Tonello

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

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Gad Levanon, PhD

Vice President, Labor Markets

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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

Senior Researcher

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Amy Lui Abel, PhD

Vice President, Human Capital Research

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Thomas Singer

Principal Researcher

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Dr. Uwe G. Schulte

Leader, Global Sustainability Centre and Program Director

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Paul Washington

Executive Director, ESG Center

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Ilaria Maselli

Senior Economist

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Amanda Popiela

Researcher, Human Capital

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Elizabeth Crofoot

Senior Economist, Labor Markets

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John Forsyth

Leader of the Consumer Dynamics Institute

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Cindy Cisneros

Vice President of Education Programs

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Steve Odland

President and CEO

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Jeff Hoffman

Institute Leader, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy, ESG Center

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Joseph J. Minarik

Senior Vice President and Director of Research

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Erik Lundh

Senior Economist

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Robin Erickson, PhD

Principal Researcher

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JP Kuehlwein

Marketing Institute Leader

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Denise Dahlhoff, PhD

Senior Researcher, Consumer Research

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Laura Sabattini, Ph.D.

Principal Researcher, Human Capital

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Robert Schwarz

Senior Researcher, ESG Center

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Chiqui Cartagena

Chief Marketing Officer & Center Leader, Marketing & Communications

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Dr. Mahdy Al Jazzaf

Executive Director

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Devin O’Connor

Deputy Director, Economic Research

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