Salvador Barrios, Wouter van der Wielen, 30 September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing Great Lockdown came with an unseen level of economic uncertainty. This column uses Google search data to document the substantial increase in people’s economic anxiety and the coinciding slowdown in European labour markets in the months following the outbreak. The analysis shows that the ensuing fear was significantly more outspoken in those EU countries hit hardest in economic terms, with levels of economic anxiety similar or higher than during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Unlike during the Great Recession, however, unprecedented policy actions, such as the short-term working schemes implemented or reformed at the onset of the COVID crisis, do not seem to have mitigated overall economic anxiety.

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