In two, terrible, months the coronavirus pandemic has driven unemployment in the US to levels unseen since the 1930s Great Depression. Did it have to be this way?
Covid-19 has cost more than 33 million Americans their jobs in the last seven weeks – 10% of the entire US population. The official unemployment rate had shot up from 4.4% to 14.7% on Friday – a figure that probably wildly underestimates the true scale of job losses.
Across the Atlantic in Europe unemployment rates, while rising sharply, have yet to match the devastating rises experienced in the US. The UK is facing 9%-plus unemployment. In Germany the International Monetary Fund is predicting an unemployment rate of just 3.9% for 2020, up from 3.2% last year.