The coronavirus deeply damaged the U.S. economy in recent weeks, with “steep” job losses and business closures, a new Federal Reserve report said.
“Economic activity declined in all districts — falling sharply in most — reflecting disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the central bank said in its Beige Book survey released Wednesday in Washington.
The report, prepared by the Kansas City Fed, was based on anecdotal information collected by the 12 regional reserve banks on or before May 18.
The survey showed employment continued to decrease across districts, “including steep losses in most” as social distancing and mandated business restrictions shuttered many firms.
“Although many contacts expressed hope that overall activity would pick-up as businesses reopened, the outlook remained highly uncertain and most contacts were pessimistic about the potential pace of recovery,” the report said.
Still, investors have tended to look through weak readings on the economy toward an eventual recovery. Wall Street stocks remained higher after the release and Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard argued the economy may already have have bottomed.
“I think April was most likely the worst month because that’s when you had the most shutdown orders in place across many jurisdictions and people were staying at home to the highest degree,” he told reporters on a conference call shortly before the Beige Book’s release. “It could well be we’ve seen the worst of this.”