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American Resilience: How hard-hit industries recovered from disasters



  • The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the American economy.
  • But the US is a resilient country, and we have recovered from tragedy in the past.
  • Business Insider looked at five industries that have been particularly hard hit by the economic effects of the outbreak, and how they survived and thrived after past calamities.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus pandemic has unraveled the very fabric of American life.

More than 2.6 million Americans have had confirmed infections, and it’s led to over 120,000 US deaths. Those numbers continue to rise.

In addition to the public health toll, the outbreak has had catastrophic consequences for the US economy. Businesses across the nation shuttered in response to the outbreak and the stay-at-home lockdowns intended to curb the spread of the disease.

Over 47 million Americans in total have filed for unemployment benefits over the last 14 weeks. Restaurants and stores have emptied out. Millions have canceled travel plans, radically altered their working conditions, and struggled to balance remote jobs with caring for relatives or children kept home from closed schools.

Although the situation is extremely dire and it’s hard to recall an overwhelming public health and economic catastrophe of this magnitude, America is a resilient nation. It has overcome tragedy before.

An essential part of America’s resilience is our ability to get back to work and rebuild our communities after a disaster. To that end, Business Insider took a look at five industries that have been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus, and compared the current crisis to another disaster that field confronted and overcame. These examples of recovery show how time and again, Americans have come together to rebuild and recover in the face of great loss, and how we can do so again after this historic pandemic.

We’ve illustrated the past and current crises using one of our favorite media: charts and graphs. The best way to capture the magnitude of a disaster is to see it through the sweeping numbers involved. Hard facts and data are crucial in understanding and recovering from a crisis, and visualizing those statistics helps give the perspective needed to learn from the past.

Read on to see how those industries recovered and what could happen to them now:

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