The U.S. economy is emerging from the coronavirus pandemic with considerable speed but markedly transformed, as businesses and consumers struggle to adapt to a new landscape with higher prices, fewer workers, new innovations and a range of inconveniences. In late February 2020, the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, inflation was tame, wages were rising and American companies were attempting to recover from a multiyear trade war.
The pandemic disrupted everything, damaging some parts of the economy much more than others. But a mass vaccination effort and the virus’s steady retreat this year has allowed many businesses and communities to reopen.
What Americans are encountering, though, is almost unrecognizable from just 16 months ago. Prices are up. Housing is scarce. It takes months longer than normal to get furniture, appliances and numerous parts delivered. And there is a great dislocation between millions of unemployed workers and millions of vacant jobs.
The post-covid luxury spending boom has begun. It’s already reshaping the economy.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell acknowledged all the uncertainty this week, saying that policymakers had misjudged parts of the recovery and that they aren’t certain what exactly will happen next