USC economists project COVID-19 pandemic could take a toll of $5 trillion on GDP over 2 years

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USC economists project the pandemic could take a toll of as much as $5 trillion dollars on GDP over two years.

This new study finds potential net losses in real gross domestic product - or the country's inflation adjusted annual economic output - range from $3.2 trillion to $4.8 trillion through early 2022.

The severity of the losses will depend on several factors, including the length and extent of business restrictions and whether reopenings drive up infections, forcing more closures.

USC Professor Adam Rose, the study team leader, says he expects the losses to end up at the higher end of the range.

"We're headed toward the worse case scenario that we simulated. We didn't really simulate a doomsday scenario which it looks now we are going to be able to avoid because of the vaccine," Rose says.

Still, the projected job losses range from 15% to 24%.

"It means that a fifth to a sixth of our population are going to be unemployed for long periods of time due to the pandemic. That's pretty serious. That is greater than the Great Recession but not as big as the Great Depression," he says.

Rose says federal stimulus, which was not factored into the projections, could still significantly lessen the blow.