The unemployment rate in the U.S has risen from 4.4 percent in March to 14.7 percent.
The coronavirus has hit the American economy harder than most with the latest figures from the Department of Labor reflecting that close to 39 million Americans have lost their jobs in roughly nine weeks. Furthermore, at the peak of the pandemic, 6.6 million jobs were being lost per week, a number that has since dropped quite substantially but remains alarming. Two weeks ago 2.4 million American people claimed unemployment benefits for the first time in their lives.
But even this figure could be far worse than the numbers suggest because not everyone that loses their job immediately applies for benefits.
The U.S. unemployment rate has almost tripled from 4.4 percent in March to 14.7 percent, which is now the highest level it has been at since the government began publishing official statistics. And with unemployment figure only taking into account people who are actively looking for work most economists believe the real figure is much higher and expect unemployment to rise to well above 20 percent in the coming months.
In a country with already high unemployment, these figures should be concerning to South Africans. According to the Sunday Times, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry claims that the unemployment rate could climb as high as 50 percent.
In the same article, economist Mike Schussler predicts a much worse scenario in the event that South Africa’s economy contracts as dramatically as in the U.S.
"The last time we had this decline in the world economy [after the 2008 financial crisis] SA lost 1.3-million jobs in 18 months. We will lose more now; we already believe that the recession will be a lot deeper than that one," he says in the article.