In response to the novel and deadly coronavirus, many governments deployed draconian tactics never used in modern times: severe and broad restrictions on daily activity that helped send the world into its deepest peacetime slump since the Great Depression.
The equivalent of 400 million jobs have been lost world-wide, 13 million in the U.S. alone. Global output is on track to fall 5% this year, far worse than during the financial crisis, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Five months later, the evidence suggests lockdowns were an overly blunt and economically costly tool. They are politically difficult to keep in place for long enough to stamp out the virus. The evidence also points to alternative strategies that could slow the spread of the epidemic at much less cost. As cases flare up throughout the U.S., some experts are urging policy makers to pursue these more targeted restrictions and interventions rather than another crippling round of lockdowns.
Britain’s economy shrank by a record 20.4% in the second quarter when the coronavirus lockdown was tightest, the most severe contraction reported by any major economy so far, with a wave of job losses set to hit later in 2020.
The data confirmed that the world’s sixth-biggest economy had entered a recession, with the low point coming in April when output was more than 25% below its pre-pandemic level.
After years of a near jobs miracle that saw record numbers in employment, Covid-19 is taking a brutal toll.
Figures from the ONS today show that the number of staff on UK payrolls fell by 612,000 between March and May.
Claimant unemployment is already up by 1.6 million since March to 2.8 million. In the whole year after the 1929 Wall Street Crash it rose by 1.0 million.
Yet a sharp drop in vacancies signals trouble ahead. Vacancies fell 170,000 in three months to April, the biggest drop since the series began in 2001. Job openings had all but collapsed entirely by the time the lockdown was announced, according to research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, with the decline coming across the wage distribution.
Benefit claims made by unemployed and underemployed people in the U.K. rose more last month than at any time on record, with the pain spread throughout the country. Jobseeker’s Allowance and related Universal Credit claims jumped by 856,500 in April alone. For context, the worst month during the 2008-09 financial crisis saw claims increase by 143,000.
Only some of roughly 36 million jobs lost since the beginning of the lockdowns designed to protect hospitals from surging cases of COVID-19 patients are not coming back in a V-shaped or a U-shaped recover. The University of Chicago estimates that 42% of the recent layoffs will result in permanent job losses.
It remains true that deaths from Covid-19 peaked in this country on April 8, well before the shutdown could have taken effect.
Nobody has ever seen so much wild spending of non-existent money before in peacetime. Some idiots nowadays think you can do this without consequences. In wartime it was disastrous. This kind of debt really hurts.
Trouble is, there will be many people who are better off sitting at home on 80 percent of their salary than going out to work to earn 100 percent of it – once travel costs, childcare, tax and so on are taken into account. For millions, there is little incentive ever to return to work. Moreover, because the government has been so generous this time around it has created an expectation that it will always bail out businesses in trouble in this way. In future recessions we will have demands for furlough schemes. Individual industries, too, will start demanding to be able to furlough employees when the going is tough. We are heading towards an idea which even Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell rejected: a universal basic income.
It is now the left that wants working people to be decommissioned, put out to pasture, languishing on state-paid wages or Universal Credit and uncertain of whether their job will even exist once the lockdown is finally lifted. And it’s the Tories saying: ‘Erm, don’t you think it would be better if working people worked?’
Of course, the left’s justification for its new policy of preventing the working classes from working is that they might catch Covid-19 and die. They’re ramping up the culture of fear in a desperate effort to present their bizarre, historically unprecedented anti-work outlook as a good, noble thing. Actual facts – like the fact that under-40s have made up just 0.75 per cent of deaths from Covid – don’t get so much as a look-in. No, keep all workers at home, even the fit, healthy young ones.
- Just 11 people under the age of 20 have succumbed to Covid-19.
- Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College has a dismal record as a forecaster.
- There’s the possibility that the lockdown has actually made the virus more deadly.
- Bank of England warned that if the lockdown is extended until June the economy could shrink by 14 per cent this year.
- More than one-in-five adults now furloughed on 80per cent of their wages.
- A fifth of the working-age population could be jobless and the quality of people’s mental and physical health would plummet.
- Every day, about 1,700 people die in Britain. Only five years ago, in the winter of 2014/15, more than 28,000 people died from seasonal flu, not far off the current coronavirus death toll of just over 30,000.
- Direct evidence to support the two-metre rule is weak, and based almost entirely on modelling rather than real life.
An astonishing 1.8million have claimed Universal Credit, 250,000 claimed jobseekers’ allowance and 20,000 claimed Employment and Support Allowance between March 16 and the end of April.
Even now UC claims are still running at around 25,000 a day – double the usual rate, MPs heard.
The new figures suggest around 5million people may now be on Universal Credit in the UK – many of them in work on low incomes.
Science is not a good guide for society. Of course science is essential to our understanding of the world and to the creation of the new insights, technologies and treatments our societies need. But it cannot tell us what is best for our societies in political, moral or economic terms…
If it is true that Boris put the country into lockdown partly in response to media pressure, then the media themselves may have a lot of questions to answer about the damage currently being done by this unprecedented freeze on working life and the economy.
The eurozone economy suffered the steepest falls in business activity and employment ever recorded during April as a result of measures taken to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, according to provisional PMI® survey data. The month as saw unprecedented damage to the eurozone economy from lockdown measures coupled with slumping global demand and shortages of both staff and inputs.
Many policies provide public-health benefits in pandemics, such as making facemasks mandatory, cancelling school, and banning large assemblies and long-distance travel. But ordering people to cower in their homes, harassing people for having playdates in the park, and ordering small businesses to close regardless of their hygienic procedures has no demonstrated effectiveness.