American Indicators: The Faces And Stories Behind The Economic Statistics




When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, big parts of the U.S. economy just turned off. Voluntary social distancing and lockdowns, like those during the first wave in March, were necessary to help “flatten the curve” of COVID-19’s spread throughout the country, but these lockdowns had ripple effects on the economy.

Millions suddenly lost their jobs, pushing unemployment to historic highs. When travel ground to a halt, hotel occupancy plummeted — and so did profits, which dropped 84.6% in 2020 from a year earlier. In New Jersey, that meant hotel owner Bhavesh Patel had to furlough employees to make ends meet.


That factory is one of the parts of the economy that are slowly coming back. Some sectors are thriving, while others continue to struggle, putting different people in vastly different situations. NPR will spend the year following four people who will help illustrate the arc of the expected economic recovery.

Author(s): Mallory Yu, Ari Shapiro

Publication Date: 20 February 2021

Publication Site: NPR