medical equipment and laptop

What the Covid-19 Pandemic Has Meant for the Economy



One year after the Covid-19 virus triggered unprecedented lockdowns around the world, some countries are showing a semblance of normalcy. Vaccine rollouts have been a catalyst for plane tickets to be booked, more people to dine out, and workers to plan returns to offices.

Some economists are predicting a faster-than-expected rebound, particularly in the U.S., where growth is expected to power a recovery in the rest of the world. Pent-up consumer demand and accumulated savings are forecast to drive back up retail, travel and hospitality spending.

However, other predictions aren’t so rosy. Past recessions show lower-wage workers could feel the repercussions for much longer. The World Bank has also forecast that the aftermath of the pandemic could spell a “lost decade” in the global economy.

Here’s a deeper dive into the wider repercussions of the Covid-19 virus on the economy.

How the Coronavirus Is Affecting the Economy


In the second quarter of 2020, U.S. gross domestic product–the value of goods and services produced by the country–fell by an annual rate of 33%, the steepest drop in more than 70 years of record-keeping, according to seasonally and inflation-adjusted figures.

The federal government responded by adding trillions of dollars in stimulus, while the Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank, slashed interest rates to near zero and pledged to conduct a massive bond-buying program in order to prop up the economy.

Recommended: What’s in the Covid-19 Stimulus Package

Since then, declining infection rates, vaccinations, as well as a gradual reopening of the economy have lifted forecasts for a rebound, with the U.S. and wealthier nations in particular expected to bounce back. Fed Vice Chair Richard H. Clarida said in 2021 during a speech, “This year the U.S. looks like it’s going to be a locomotive for the global economy.”

Meanwhile, the World Bank has said that the pandemic could reverse decades of progress for developing economies and cause permanent damage, resulting in a K-shaped recovery. The organization lowered its growth forecast for emerging-market and developing nations to 3.3% a year from 2020 to 2029, Before the pandemic, the bank had a 4% rate of growth estimate.

How Covid-19 Affected People


Even as economic conditions have improved, employment in February 2021 was still 8.5 million less than in February 2020–a loss that could take more than three years to recoup. Women, racial minorities, and low-skilled workers have been hit the hardest.

A net 2.4 million women versus 1.8 million men left the labor force between February 2020 and February 2021, according to a report by Pew Research Center . Meanwhile, Hispanic and Black women accounted for 46% of the total decrease among women.

Meanwhile, in early 2021, nearly 20% of renters in the U.S. were behind on their payments. President Joe Biden extended an eviction moratorium when he entered office in 2021, but widespread evictions are a serious possibility, according to researchers.

Furthermore, non-profit Feeding America projects that 42 million people (1 in 8) including 13 million children (1 in 6) may experience food insecurity in 2021. While that’s a slight improvement from figures in 2020, it’s a sign of how the Covid-19 pandemic could continue to inflict hardship, even after vaccinations ramp up and economic conditions somewhat normalize.

Racial disparities also exist when it comes to food insecurity, with 1 in 5 Black individuals expected to experience it, compared with 1 in 9 white individuals. The recovery could also take years. Feeding America said that after the 2008 financial crisis, it took nearly 10 years for food insecurity to return to pre-recession levels.

How Covid-19 Affected Industries


Savings in U.S. households nearly doubled in 2020. That trend, along with a soaring equity market and property valuations, lifted U.S. household wealth to $10 trillion from $9 trillion. Plus, federal stimulus packages grew household income by 3.7% in 2020, more than twice as fast as in 2019.

In 2021, retail spending started off with a bang, surpassing economists’ expectations and raising expectations the economy could reopen sooner as vaccine rates pick up and virus hospitalizations slow down. Even in 2020, consumer spending only slipped 2.6% as federal stimulus and e-commerce shopping trends mitigated the effects of the pandemic lockdowns.

Recommended: Investing in Retail Stocks

While leisure travel has shown signs of recovery in 2021, the forecast isn’t as hopeful for business trips, which is how airlines get a big chunk of their revenue.

Thanks to Zoom meetings and flexible work arrangements, many industry observers forecast business travel could take a long time to recover. Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. forecasts business travel will only recover to 80% of pre-pandemic levels by 2024.

The Takeaway

The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns triggered significant stock volatility and uncertainty in the global economy. Unfortunately, the widespread repercussions could linger for a while, particularly on lower-wage groups within developed economies and general populations in emerging markets.

For individuals, during periods of turbulence like this, it becomes even more important to focus on your financial goals and not get distracted by short-term losses. Getting your money right as an investor means staying the course and having the assurance that—in the long run—markets tend to increase. Business-cycle investing tends to be a tricky endeavor.

Diversifying your portfolio and making regular investments–even during a downturn—are some of the best things many investors can do. SoFi Invest® offers an Active Investing platform for those who know which assets they want to wager on. For those who want more help, the Automated Investing service may be a good option. All these products have no trading fees and you can started with as little as $1.

Check out SoFi Invest today.

Learn More


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SOIN20043


All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

ABOUT SoFi SoFi helps people achieve financial independence to realize their ambitions. Our products for borrowing, saving, spending, investing, and protecting give our more than one million members fast access to tools to get their money right. SoFi membership comes with the key essentials for getting ahead, including career advisors and connection to a thriving community of like-minded, ambitious people. For more information, visit SoFi.com. Want an easy and convenient way to manage your financial life? Get the SoFi app. For iOS and Android.


TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender