Twitter shows lower-to-middle income countries have higher unemployment post pandemic

Lower-to-middle-income countries still struggle with high unemployment rates after COVID-19 lockdowns and economic restrictions, unlike higher-income countries such as Canada, finds a new study led by York University with the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

This is opposite from the 2008-2009 global economic crisis when higher-income countries suffered more from the recession than lower-income countries.

The study used Twitter sentiments to help compare macroeconomic factors including unemployment and inflation across Nigeria, South Africa and Canada representing lower-middle, upper-middle and high-income countries respectively.

They found the unemployment rate increased for all three countries at the beginning of the pandemic, however, Canada was able to control the rate after the first couple of months unlike Nigeria and South Africa, where they continue to struggle with high unemployment.

“This indicates how vulnerable lower-middle income countries are to lockdowns and economic limitations, bearing a greater loss during the COVID-19 pandemic than higher income countries,” says York University Assistant Professor Jude Kong, the study’s corresponding author and director of the Africa-Canada AI & Data Innovation Consortium (ACADIC).

Before COVID-19, lockdowns and economic restrictions, Nigeria’s unemployment rate was lower than South Africa’s, while the inflation rate of South Africa was lower than Nigeria. During the pandemic, however, unemployment and inflation rates in Nigeria have increased more than Canada and South Africa.

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