An overview of the economic carnage that the coronavirus pandemic has created has been provided by new economic data from the United States and Europe.
New US figures show that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits has increased to more than 30 million, compounding the crisis that has not been seen since the 1930s.
The figures also increase the pressure on US leaders to lift the bottlenecks that have seen businesses and factories shut down.
In the past week, 3.8 million Americans have applied for benefits, bringing the total to 30.3 million since the crisis began.
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That’s about one in six American workers, or all of those living in New York, Chicago and Texas combined.
Economists predict that April could be even worse and unemployment could reach 20% – one in five. The Great Depression saw unemployment in the United States peak at 25%.
Meanwhile, in Europe, disastrous economic data from the eurozone economy – which covers 19 countries that use the currency – showed that it had declined 3.8% in the first quarter of the year.
The fall was the largest since 1995 – when euro area statistics started.
Across the continent, more than 130,000 people died from COVID-19 and entire countries were forced to lock everything from flowers to rot in fields, restaurants and cafes to sit empty and manufacturing for s ‘Stop.
Germany, the strongest country in the eurozone, expects its economy to shrink 6.3% this year. The economy of France fell 5.8% in the first quarter, its worst figure since 1949. Spain fell 5.2%, the nation having been ordered to stay inside.
Economists at High Frequency Economics have described it as “the saddest day for the global economy we have ever seen” in a report.
“The statistical offices of the economies we observe produced 19 economic reports overnight. They revealed historic declines in activity and increased unemployment on a scale that we had never seen before. We are sad.”
The flood of disastrous economic news comes as the World Health Organization warns that the pandemic is “far from over”. However, leaders in many countries are under pressure and are announcing the end of the foreclosure measures that are starting to cause economic and mental health problems that could take years to correct.
Some countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea have relaxed the restrictions and will slowly begin to return to a “new normal”. Denmark, which was the first country outside of Asia to ease its lockdown in mid-April, said two weeks into COVID-19 cases had not rebounded.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the country had “passed the peak” of the pandemic but had maintained locking measures.
“I know how difficult and stressful it was to give up, even temporarily, these ancient and fundamental freedoms, not to see friends, not to see loved ones, to work from home, to manage children, worry about your work and your business, “he said. .
“So let me say directly also to British companies, traders, entrepreneurs, the hotel industry, everyone on whom our economy depends: I understand your impatience, I share your anxiety.”
In the United States, senior disease specialist Anthony Fauci has warned that the restrictions will be lifted too quickly after President Trump said he would not extend federal government directives last Thursday.
“We will have blips … no doubt about it,” said Dr. Fauci on NBC’s “Today” show.
“When you retire, there will be cases, and what we need to do is make sure that (the states) have the capacity to identify, isolate and trace contacts.” Fauci urged states that do not have this ability to go very slow.
“You cannot just jump over things and find yourself in a situation where you are really trying to rebound. That is what worries me,” he said.