Kampala, Uganda | XINHUA | Sweden’s economy shrank by 8.6 percent in the second quarter (Q2) of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Sweden (SCB) said Wednesday. Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson attributed this “better than expected” results partly to the country’s less strict lockdown policies.
SCB said the drop was the largest quarterly decline in 40 years.
“It is a historical large landslide, but at the same time less (severe) than in many other countries and actually less (severe) than what I did for assessment in June,” the minister said at a press conference, adding that “one reason may be that we have had a somewhat less strict lockdown than in other countries.”
Despite under relatively loose pandemic policies, Swedish economy has been hit hard. SCB statistics showed that Sweden’s current unemployment rate stood at 9.3 percent, the highest of the past 20 years. Andersson said that the economic development is still uncertain.
She said Sweden is in a recovery phase and that would take time. “It is obvious that we need to ensure that people who have lost their jobs can have security, that you can get the opportunity for retraining and we naturally also need to ensure that municipalities and regions have resources to both care for those who have become ill with COVID-19… We also need to strengthen care for the elderly.”
According to Andersson, right now, the government is working with additional support for individual companies.
Sweden has so far counted 5,760 deaths and 81,540 infections in a population of over 10 million. Sweden has neither imposed a lockdown — even during the peak of the pandemic — nor asked people to wear face masks in public, quoting a lack of support in research.