The longest financial growth in U.S. background came to a shuddering halt in the initially quarter as the coronavirus pandemic sent GDP tumbling into negative territory — with economists expecting significantly even worse to appear.

The Commerce Division described Wednesday that gross domestic item contracted 4.8% in the January-March time period, the initially decrease due to the fact the one.one% drop in the initially quarter of 2014 and the worst quarterly contraction due to the fact the Excellent Economic downturn.

Considering that most of the coronavirus lockdowns that have introduced the economic climate to a virtual standstill only started in the 2nd 50 % of March, economists are now bracing for a 2nd-quarter plunge of Excellent Melancholy proportions.

“If the economic climate fell this really hard in the initially quarter, with significantly less than a thirty day period of pandemic lockdown for most states, really do not question how significantly it will crater in the 2nd quarter because it is likely to be a finish disaster,” Chris Rupkey, main economist at MUFG in New York, told Reuters.

Just before the virus disaster, the U.S. had been escalating at a steady two% rate all through what had turn into the longest growth in background. Economists noted that Wednesday’s GDP reading was the initially of three, with Goldman Sachs forecasting an best contraction of 8.25% the moment a lot more details has been gathered.

“We believe financial reality all through the quarter was even even worse,” Goldman economist Spencer Hill mentioned in a observe.

As CNBC studies, the initially-quarter GDP numbers “provide the initially in-depth glimpse into the deep destruction the coronavirus wreaked on the U.S. economy” as the pandemic compelled businesses to lay off millions of people and merchants to near their retailers.

Buyer spending, the major driver of the financial growth, fell at a 7.6% once-a-year rate, the most significant retreat due to the fact 1980, and health and fitness-care spending declined a sharp two.3% even with the pandemic.

“Hospitals have canceled or delayed quite a few elective strategies and sufferers have stayed absent for worry of contracting the virus,” MarketWatch noted.

The housing marketplace was one particular of the few vibrant places, with investment surging 21% as reduced mortgage loan rates encouraged design businesses to build a lot more houses to meet up with increasing desire. “The surge is all but sure to fizzle out in the 2nd quarter, nonetheless,” according to MarketWatch.

Commerce Division, customer spending, contraction, coronavirus, financial growth, GDP, Excellent Melancholy