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US and UK unemployment could exceed that in the Great Depression – Editor

From today’s Guardian:

“ Unemployment in Britain and the US could surpass the levels reached during the 1930s Great Depression within months as the coronavirus crisis crushes the global economy, a former Bank of England official has warned.

In a stark forecast as job losses mount around the world, David Blanchflower, professor of economics at Dartmouth College in the US and a member of the Bank’s interest rate-setting monetary policy committee during the 2008 financial crisis, said unemployment was now rising at the fastest rate in living memory.

Writing in the Guardian, the economist said UK unemployment could rapidly rise to more than 6 million people, around 21% of the entire workforce, based on analysis of US job market figures that suggest unemployment across the Atlantic could reach 52.8 million, around 32% of the workforce.

‘ There has never been such a concentrated business collapse. The government has tried to respond but it has no idea of the scale of the problem it is going to have to deal with. We have made some back-of-the-envelope calc- ulations, and they are scary.’ he said. “

Comments from Patrick Newman

You get the feeling that in the United Kingdom the government is making it up as they go along in both the economy and the viral epidemic. They don’t seem to realise what is unfolding here. The initial sign on to unemployment benefit may be just the first instalment. Almost daily large businesses are going into administration on the one hand but on the other we see that thousands of small businesses like pubs and cafes are just folding. At the moment the only counter to depression is public sector spending and employment being maintained. It could be the mother of all depressions. At least the government are not talking about dealing with the deficit!


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