Business & Economy

No one predicted what a tumultuous, stomach-churning year 2020 would be for the stock markets. And few foresaw how well it would end up.

Here are the highlights:

Stocks in meltdown

Between Feb. 12 and March 23, the Dow lost a stunning 37% of its value.

New Ohio House Speaker Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) speaks during an announcement of a proposed overhaul school funding for schools in Ohio at the Statehouse in Columbus, March 25, 2019.
John Minchillo / AP

The pandemic slowed down work at the Ohio Statehouse in 2020. But lawmakers did pass a number of bills relating to COVID-19, as well as others that dealt with controversial issues like guns and abortion.

A group of artists were paid to paint temporary murals over the boarded-up windows of the Ohio Theatre on June 2, 2020, after it was damaged during protests.
Ryan Hitchcock / WOSU

Central Ohio lost tens of thousands of jobs and many small businesses in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Bill Lafayette, economist and founder of Regionomics, says the COVID-19 vaccine offers hope that the economy can recover in 2021.

With the arrival of winter and the U.S. coronavirus outbreak in full swing, the restaurant industry expected to lose more than $230 billion in 2020 is clinging to techniques for sustaining outdoor dining even through the cold and vagaries of a U.S. winter.

If you're the type to be disappointed by what's under the Christmas tree, this year you may find yourself even more dismayed by what's not under the tree. Millions of gifts may arrive late, as the U.S. Postal Service grapples with an unprecedented volume of packages from people shopping online, instead of at stores, and shipping holiday gifts instead of bringing them in person.

 This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y.
Mike Groll / Associated Press

Both initial and continuing claims for unemployment compensation rose last week, another sign of the economy's continued weakness during the coronavirus pandemic, Ohio reported Thursday.

Updated at 11:11 a.m. ET

U.S. retail spending declined the most since a historic plunge in April as new coronavirus surges restricted outings to stores and restaurants.

Retail sales dipped 1.1% in November compared with a month earlier, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

However, retail spending — excluding food service — was still up 7.1% when compared with a year earlier, in part thanks to record-setting Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping sprees.

A house. Two cars. A kid in college. Debi and Nick Lemieur had all the markers of a middle class life. But they both remember one purchase — Nick's $600 bass amplifier — that prompted one of the biggest fights in their four decades of marriage.

"He didn't tell me he hid it in the trunk of the car, and I found it," Debi says, laughing, 14 years later. "To me it was like, oh my God, how much will this screw with our budget?"

Updated at 12:21 p.m. ET

Scores of private charitable foundations, set up by some of the nation's wealthiest people, received money from the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program, which was created last spring to save jobs at small businesses as the coronavirus tanked the economy.

Unemployment claims jumped sharply last week as a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths put new pressure on the U.S. economy just before critical coronavirus aid programs are set to expire.

The Labor Department said 853,000 people filed new claims for state unemployment benefits during the week that ended on Dec. 5 — a sharp increase of 137,000 from the previous week.

Claims for a special federal program for gig workers and the self-employed, who ordinarily are not eligible for unemployment relief, also jumped, by 48%.

Congress still hasn't reached a deal on a new COVID-19 relief package to help millions of Americans who could fall off an economic cliff by the end of the year when moratoriums on evictions and some unemployment benefits are set to expire. But whether or not Congress agrees on an additional aide package during the lame-duck session, Joe Biden will still inherit a fragile economy and a possibly uncooperative Congress, which raises questions about what — if anything — the next president can do on his own to bolster an economic recovery.

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