The economic catastrophe caused by the coronavirus outbreak likely sent the U.S. unemployment rate in April to its highest level since the Great Depression and caused a record-shattering loss of jobs. With the economy paralyzed by business closures, the unemployment rate likely jumped to at least 16% — from just 4.4% in March — and employers cut a stunning 21 million or more jobs in April, economists have forecast. It would mean that nearly all the job growth in the 11 years since the financial crisis had vanished in a single month.
Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit rose in March as the global pandemic battered America’s trade with the world. The Commerce Department reported that the gap between what the United States sells and what it buys abroad widened 11.6% in March to $44.4 billion from $39.8 billion in February. U.S. exports fell 9.6% to $187.7 billion on plunging orders for cars, auto parts and industrial machines. Imports fell 6.2% to $232.2 billion.
On top of having lost 137,000 lives, the European Union predicted “a recession of historic proportions this year” due to the impact of the coronavirus as it released its first official estimates of the damage the pandemic is inflicting on the bloc’s economy. The 27-nation EU economy is predicted to contract by 7.5% this year, before growing about 6% in 2021, assuming countries steadily ease their lockdowns.
The group of 19 nations using the euro as their currency will see a record decline of 7.75% this year, and grow by 6.25% in 2021, the European Commission said in its Spring economic forecast. “It is now quite clear that the EU has entered the deepest economic recession in its history,” EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told reporters in Brussels. As the virus hit, “economic activity in the EU dropped by around one third practically overnight,” he said.
The Venezuelan government said this week it foiled an armed incursion from the sea, killing a group of alleged mercenaries who sought to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro and spark a coup. Authorities blamed the alleged plot on the United States and said a number of "terrorists", including two former US soldiers, had been arrested. The incident came at a time of high tensions between the US and Venezuela.
Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the attackers tried to land on speedboats before dawn on May 3 on a beach at Macuto, about an hour north of Caracas, but were intercepted by the military and special police units. The US is among nearly 60 countries that back opposition politician Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader. It has also imposed tough economic sanctions against Caracas in an effort to force Maduro, whom it accuses of having rigged elections in 2018, to step down.
At least 11 people were killed by a massive gas leak at a chemical plant in southern India, with 800 others taken to hospital. The leak from the LG Polymers plant in the city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh state came as people slept. Doctors said patients came in complaining of a burning sensation in the eyes and difficulties breathing.
Areas around the plant were evacuated. The leak may have been due to negligence, officials say. Reports suggest initial attempts to control the gas leak were unsuccessful but the company and state officials eventually said the situation was under control. LG said in a statement it was investigating the cause of the incident, and was looking at ways "to provide speedy treatment" for those affected. Rajendra Reddy, a senior official in the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, told the BBC that the leaked gas was styrene, which is usually refrigerated.