Jun 24, 2020 - Health

The pandemic's lost years

Illustration of a woman in a suit with a briefcase climbing a ladder that is disappearing
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Even while still living in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we're starting to see the long-term effects of lost schooling, curtailed travel and shuttered businesses.

Why it matters: The U.S. will see some $7.9 trillion in lost economic growth through this decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The World Bank, meanwhile, predicts global gross domestic product will shrink by 5.2% in 2020 alone — nearly three times as much as the 2009 recession.

Poverty reduction around the globe could be set back 20-30 years, according to the World Bank.

  • The organization expects 70-100 million people to be pushed into extreme poverty, reversing the downward trajectory of the phenomenon.
  • UNU-WIDER, part of the United Nations University, predicts 395 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty, while the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day worldwide could rise to more than 1 billion.

Job losses have disproportionately affected women, resulting in a prolonged dip in their income and participation in the job market.

  • The female unemployment rate has reached double digits for the first time since 1948, a swift reversal from December, when women had more payroll jobs than men for the first time in nearly 10 years.
  • Leisure, hospitality, education and some parts of health care, all dominated by women, are among the industries hardest hit by the pandemic.
  • A United Nations report in April predicted "the impacts of the COVID-19 global recession will result in a prolonged dip in women’s incomes and labor force participation."

Flashback: Women were slower than men to recover their livelihoods and had a harder time securing loans to rebuild businesses after lockdown measures were lifted in West Africa after the Ebola outbreak.

  • This could be an indication of how the coronavirus will affect women around the world, and especially in developing countries, per the U.N.

Education: Research shows the shift to remote learning could set the average student seven months behind academically, according to an analysis from the consulting group McKinsey & Company.

  • Students and teachers alike struggled with the switch to remote learning after schools shuttered their doors to stem the spread of the virus.
  • Racial disparities in access to computers and home internet connection could exacerbate achievement gaps that existed before the pandemic. Black and Hispanic students could face even greater setbacks, with Hispanic students losing nine months and Black students losing 10 months.
  • High school dropout rates could increase, as students miss out on learning early concepts that provide a foundation for years of education.

Young people graduating from college could also face the long-term health and financial effects of entering the job market during a recession, according to research from Stanford University — especially higher unemployment rates and lower starting salaries.

  • Graduates who start working during such times see their incomes depleted for an average of 10 to 15 years, according to the study.
  • By their midlife, people who graduate during a recession are also less likely to be married, and more likely to be childless, and face a higher chance of death than those who did not.

Tourism: The U.N. World Tourism Organization projected the industry would grow by 4% globally before the pandemic, outpacing the economy as a whole.

  • Now, the organization says the industry saw a 22% drop in the first quarter, and could decline by as much as 80% by the end of the year. Up to 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk.

Restaurants: An estimated 3% of restaurants in the U.S. have closed since the pandemic began, and the industry as a whole likely lost more than $120 billion in sales during March, April, and May, according to a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association.

  • Many restaurant owners who permanently closed their businesses said they will likely never return to the industry. It faces an expected $240 billion in losses by the end of the year.
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