Manufacturers experienced significant disruptions in their operations and demand in 2020, as businesses struggled to cope with the COVID-19 and its implications. To control the spread of the virus, governments initiated stay-at-home orders, and many firms were forced to close or limit operations. As a result, there were severe declines in production and employment, both in the United States and in global markets, often at record paces or rivaling the decreases seen in the Great Recession. While activity has started to rebound somewhat in this latest downturn, it will take time for output and hiring to return to pre-recessionary levels—perhaps not until at least 2022—with uncertainties in the outlook pervasive.
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