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Surge in unemployment during times of COVID

COVID pandemic does not just affect any nation’s healthcare system; it also impacts the economy, growth and unemployment rate.

-by Dr Rimsha Qasim


Experts at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) believe, “The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered one of the worst jobs crises since the Great Depression.” Workers are staging protests nationwide against huge lockdowns as their livelihood is highly dependent on daily income. Microeconomics has suffered along with macroeconomics.

Unemployment status in COVID

Trade-in Pakistan has seen a setback, considering it is a massive part of our economy. There is a constant rift between traders and the government. According to a local media outlet, former finance minister Dr Hafiz Pasha estimated that around 2.6 million people might become jobless in the country over the next 18 months. Meanwhile, authorities closed restaurants due to lockdown measures, resulting in the working staff’s loss of jobs. Many people faced salary cut-offs widely. Front-line doctors weren’t hired with the rush they should’ve been.

Moreover, dentists across the country had to close their clinics as dental procedures are considered under the high-risk category.

This further puts a burden on the country’s healthcare system. To sum it up, there also has been an established association between unemployment and suicide during COVID-19 as compiled in Foundation University Journal of Psychology.

Role of authorities

The major hurdle was due to the government’s late response to the pandemic, which started a chain of unfortunate events. To nip things in the bud as the New Zealand government should’ve been our approach too. Some relief programs like the Ehsaas Emergency Cash financial relief program provided away, but it is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. More international aid is essential to make up for the vast losses. Youth initiatives are necessary as they make up most of the unemployed portion of the country.

The way forward

In conclusion, it seems that reforms are the only way forward. No country can tackle unemployment with a lack of investment, foreign debt, and failed planning. There is a deep-rooted problem with the country’s structural reforms, and to get out of the current situation, we need to impose measures that will not derail the economy further. Authorities should implement smart lockdowns instead of strict lockdowns. People should follow SOPs. Vaccination programs must be hastened. Priorities need to be sorted out. Corona is here to stay for the foreseeable future; unemployment must not.


-The author is contributing writer at Dental News Pakistan and can be reached at rimsha.qasim@duhs.edu.pk

April 14, 2021

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