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How bad will the recession be and how long will it last?

There’s little doubt the coronavirus pandemic already has tipped the U.S. into recession, economists say, abruptly ending the record 11-year-old expansion.

Now, the two big questions are: How severe will the downturn be? And how long will it last?

Assuming the number of U.S. cases peaks with warmer weather in late April or May and then wanes, as many health officials believe, most economists predict a recession that lasts about six months and then just a gradual recovery in the second half of the year.

“It will likely be a short but sharp contraction,” says Gus Faucher, chief economist PNC Financial Services Group.

This slump is likely to be deep because a big chunk of consumer spending – the economy’s main engine – suddenly has come to a standstill. Some states have closed down all bars and restaurants or their dining areas while others have also shuttered movie theaters, gyms, casinos and other establishments. Even in states and cities that haven’t gone that far, many Americans are hunkering down and shunning public places.

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