UN/DESA Policy Brief #58: COVID-19: Addressing the social crisis through fiscal stimulus plans

The pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 is spreading quickly, with 738,000 cases confirmed across the globe and over 35,000 deaths registered as of 30 March 2020 (Johns Hopkins University, Center for Systems Science and Engineering). The number of cases has almost doubled in the last week (from 418,000 cases on 23 March). Many countries have restricted activity and an increasing number are on lockdown. The health crisis is already evolving into a global financial and economic crisis, with sweeping consequences for economic growth, employment and wages. Preliminary estimates by the ILO suggest significant rises in unemployment—on the order of 13 million, with a high scenario of almost 25 million—losses of labour income of as much as $3,400 billion and increases in the number of people in working poverty (ILO, 2020). For young people, entering the labour market during the crisis can have damaging (“scarring”) effects on their working careers and long-term wellbeing (see, for instance, European Commission, 2014).