The good news on the economy came Thursday when the government reported a 33 percent increase in third quarter GDP.
The bad news: That’s only regaining about two-thirds of the decline in GDP from the second quarter.
It also comes at a time when coronavirus cases are spiking in the U.S. and Europe, where some governments are already calling for shutting down restaurants and bars. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker prohibited indoor dining at any Chicago restaurant last week.
Minnesota cases are spiking as well, hitting records of 3,000 new cases a day. Cases in the Mankato region jumped 24 percent last week, compared to a three week average.
And unlike the first downturn, Congress is doing nothing to provide aid to unemployed workers or businesses through a new payroll protection plan. Both sides can be blamed for not reaching a compromise on a new stimulus package.
GOP Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will take up another aid package after the election. That’s assuming McConnell will still have his leadership position.
Gov. Tim Walz has said he has no plans to reinstate restrictions on bar and restaurant capacity. That’s good news. It’s also clear that most of the Minnesota spread is coming from mask fatigue and large group gatherings.
While the Trump administration chided Walz for enforcing the 250 person rally at the Rochester Trump rally, that was actually good for business. Walz likely prevented another Trump superspreader event.
Economists estimate fourth quarter GDP growth will be lower than earlier forecast, coming in between 3 and 4 percent.
Recovery will take longer because many restaurant, bar and travel industry jobs including those in the airlines will not be coming back. Those workers will have to find new jobs and that will take more time.
So the rebound in third quarter GDP was a positive, but there’s much work to be done by Congress and business to get the economy to just hold steady again.
Tamping down the virus through mask wearing and social distancing is one way consumers can help their fellow workers in the restaurant and bar industry regain their livelihood.