The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Friday that the coronavirus shutdown has slashed a record number of jobs from nonfarm payrolls, sending the unemployment rate to record highs.
The 20.5 million jobs lost last month represents by far the largest and most sudden decline since the government began tracking the data in 1939. The last time American joblessness was that severe was during the Great Depression.
With 870,000 jobs slashed in March, a decade’s worth of job gains has now been wiped out in under two months. After the US was hit by coronavirus, the unemployment rate skyrocketed from 3.5 percent in February to nearly 15 percent in April.
According to the BLS report, leisure and hospitality saw some of the steepest job losses, amounting to 7.7 million jobs. Food and beverage stores lost 42,000 jobs. Education and health services cut 2.5 million workers, while professional and business services, as well as retail, both saw a loss of 2.1 million employees. Manufacturing and other services fell by 1.1 million jobs each, and government jobs nosedived by 980,000. The construction industry cut 975,000 employees, and the transportation and warehousing sector was down by 584,000 jobs.
The total employment level of 133.4 million has sunk to its lowest since June 1999.
The bleak numbers paint a “pretty dismal picture, but April may be it for job losses going forward, with the country starting to reopen,” chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank Chris Rupkey was quoted as saying by CNBC. “If there’s a silver lining in today’s dismal jobs report, it’s in the realization that the economy cannot possibly get any worse than it is right now.”
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