Mapping the response of the USA to the coronavirus pandemic compared to other countries in the world is not an easy task. The pandemic has seriously affected both employment and health. Covid-19 has certainly worsened the economic woes of the country.
According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, almost 13.6 million Americans became unemployed in August. Records of John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre revealed that about 190,000 have died from the coronavirus and the numbers are still growing.
Harry J. Holzer, professor of public policy at Georgetown University said that other countries have used payroll subsidies to ensure that workers will still have their jobs. They undertook steps to make sure that employees are furloughed instead of unemployed by subsidizing payrolls.
Holzer also said that American layoffs are growing. Last May, the University of Chicago predicted that at least 42% or 11.6 million Americans will lose their jobs through April 25 because of the pandemic and this will stay permanent.
Businesses can get loans through the US Payroll Protection Program that could be forgiven if they maintained employment but the program has expired. The program was not widely exploited so that unemployment became a very big concern. The $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit has also expired at the end of July.
According to Holzer’s observations, the increase in unemployment from January to April was 11 times larger in the USA than the average in OECD members. Virus cases per capita in the US was 4 times higher than OECD countries. Deaths per capita were twice as high.
The economic trendline is tangled with America’s poor performance in the fight against Covid-19. The country has waited too long before it finally took action but it was not enough in terms of ramping up testing and tracing. Different policies would have improved the outcomes.
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