Brookings // How the Pandemic is Changing the Economy

By Wendy Edelberg and Jay Shambaugh

The COVID-19 public health crisis, the economic shock triggered by the pandemic, and public policy, business, and individual responses to the pandemic together have provoked the sharpest and fastest economic downturn in U.S. history. Both the pandemic and the fiscal policy response have ebbed and flowed, and the economy remains fragile. Wendy Edelberg and Jay Shambaugh discuss how the current crisis fits into historic context and what will be the long-lasting economic consequences. In particular, policymakers will need to address increasing concentration among businesses, accelerating automation, and stark reductions in labor force participation among certain groups. An effective response will require renewed emphasis on antitrust enforcement, changes to the labor market to ensure that those with less education are not left behind, and support for parents, caregivers, and those with compromised health to help keep them attached to the l...

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