Our "K-Shaped," Uneven Economic Recovery

Confidence is key to the recovery, but the sentiment depends on consumers’ financial circumstances.

Peter Atwater stands for a photographic portrait of himself
(Image credit: Photograph by Tyler Darden)

Peter Atwater is founder of Financial Insyghts, a research firm, and adjunct lecturer in economics for the College of William and Mary and the University of Delaware.

You have popularized the term “K-shaped recovery” to describe the impact of the pandemic on the U.S. economy. What is a K-shaped recovery? It’s the term I use to describe the clear economic divide that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. What I saw as early as the end of March last year was that for people who were able to pivot to working from home, their confidence immediately began to rebound. For everyone else, it was not getting better, and in many cases—particularly for those in the hospitality and travel industry—it was getting worse.

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.