Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
The changes reflect the first full month report of the dramatic effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. Employment fell sharply in all major industry sectors, with particularly heavy job losses in leisure and hospitality. Employment fell in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry by 1.3 million, according to the monthly indicator.
The unemployment rate and the monthly increase (10.3 percentage points from the March data) are the largest in the history of the series, which started in January of 1948. The contemporary peak, however, was in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, when unemployment hit 25%.
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In the last recession, in 2007-2009, total jobs lost were 8.7 million and the unemployment rate peaked at about 10%.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said the number of people at work part time for economic reasons nearly doubled over the month to 10.9 million. “These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. This group includes persons who usually work full time and persons who usually work part time.”
It also said the number of people not in the labor force who currently want a job, at 9.9 million, nearly doubled in April. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the last 4 weeks or were unavailable to take a job.
Pundits are calling the number completely shocking although not unexpected given the severity of the lockdown across the country. They were released as a some startes begin to cautiously reopen for business.
According to a report by Citigroup today, states accounting for 40% of GDP have partially reopened as of today. By the end of next week, states accounting for 65% of GDP will have implemented some limited reopening.
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