When countries slammed their borders and their economy shut to reduce the transmission speed of the coronavirus,  unemployment statistics soared throughout the world. With a new wave of the epidemic on the way, here’s where unemployment sits across the world as nations consider further closures. The COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately fade away, but the long-term repercussions on employment and lives will be felt for several years. That’s the major takeaway from the International Monetary Fund’s current World Economic Outlook, which was issued in October 2020.

The unemployment rate is a lagging indicator, which means it reacts (rises and falls) rather than forecasts changes in market conditions. When the economy is growing at a healthy pace, job opportunities are numerous, and the unemployment rate drops. When the economy is in a slump or going through a rough patch, the unemployment rate rises owing to a shortage of jobs. 

Highest Unemployment Rates

The world’s top four highest unemployment rates at the end of 2020 were in Sub-Saharan Africa and occupied Palestine.

  • South Africa: 28.5%
  • Occupied Palestinian Territories: 26.1%
  • Lesotho: 22.8%
  • Eswatini: 22%

Unemployment Rates for the World’s Largest Economies

The unemployment rates for the top 10 largest economies by GDP were predictably low at the end of 2020, with some outliers like France, Italy, and Brazil.

  • Japan: 2.3%
  • Germany: 3%
  • United States: 3.9%
  • United Kingdom: 4.1%
  • China: 4.4%
  • India: 5.4%
  • Canada: 5.4%
  • France: 8.3%
  • Italy: 9.8%
  • Brazil: 12%

As nations reopen their economy and the number of daily COVID-19 cases continue to trend lower or rise, the statistics above will most likely differ significantly in the following months. The coronavirus is creating long-term health difficulties for many people. Hence, if it prevents people from returning to work, this might be a possible source of future disability insurance claims.