5 graphs show stages of global economic recovery since the onset of Covid

Passengers on a train in Hong Kong on March 2, 2022, amid the Covid pandemic.

Dale De La Rey | AFP | Getty Images

Oil prices plummeted, travel ground to a halt and unemployment soared when the coronavirus hit in early 2020.

Then there were signs of recovery. Stock markets recovered and quickly surpassed 2019 levels, while the global economy began to recover, although the pace varies by region and industry.

Two years after the WHO declared Covid a pandemic, here are five charts that show how much – or how little – the world has recovered.

Oil demand

Oil prices have been skyrocketing since early 2020, reacting to both demand and supply factors.

Demand first evaporated when restrictions went into effect, but later returned, causing supply issues in 2021.

OPEC estimates that global oil demand was 100.1 million barrels per day in 2019 and has yet to fully recover.

The Russian-Ukrainian war has once again thrown the oil market into chaos. Russian oil hit by US and UK sanctions

During Asian trading, US oil futures rose 0.3% to $106.38 a barrel, while international benchmark Brent rose 0.12% to $109.46 a barrel.

Higher oil prices are likely to dampen demand, although this will not be related to the pandemic.

Number of seats in the airline

The tourism industry has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic as many countries closed their borders and urged residents to stay at home as much as possible.

Seats per week fell sharply before recovering, but are still far from the 2019 average, according to global travel data provider OAG.

“The global weekly seating capacity will be 82.[million] and total capacity is 23% lower than the same week in 2019, the company said in a March 7 announcement.

The airline’s capacity is expected to reach 100 million seats per week by mid-May, the OAG added.

According to CNBC calculations, the average weekly capacity in 2019 was 110,716,079.


Quarantine measures have led to job cuts around the world. In the United States, the unemployment rate jumped to 14.7%, a post-World War II record.

The unemployment rate has also increased in other countries.

Using December 2019 data as a benchmark, unemployment rates in China and Germany are more or less back to pre-crisis levels. Japan and the US continue to report slightly higher unemployment rates.

Interest rates

Central banks have cut interest rates in 2020 to support the economy as Covid spreads.

Countries such as the UK and South Korea have since raised rates, and the Federal Reserve is expected to do so at its March meeting.

However, interest rates are much lower than they were before the pandemic.

State debt

Governments have spent more on protecting the economy from the effects of the pandemic and its economic fallout.

According to data from the Bank for International Settlements, the public debt-to-GDP ratio has risen and remains higher than before the pandemic.

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