US non-farm payrolls decreased by a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic batters the world’s biggest economy.
The unemployment rate rose to 14.7%, down from 4.4% in March, a postwar high highlighting the broad damage to the US labor market.
The April job losses alone far exceeded the 8.7 million in the last recession when unemployment peaked at 10% in October 2009. The only comparable period came when the rate reached about 25% in 1933 before the government began publishing official statistics.
The Labor Department’s monthly employment report on Friday will likely strengthen analysts’ expectations of a slow recovery from the recession caused by the pandemic.
Bleak data on consumer spending, business investment, trade, productivity and the housing market in underscoring the devastation unleashed by lockdowns imposed by states and local governments in mid-March to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
The economic crisis spells trouble for President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term in the White House in November. After the Trump administration was criticized for its initial reaction to the pandemic, Trump is eager to reopen the economy, despite a continued rise in COVID-19 infections and dire projections of deaths.
The historic dive in jobs hit nearly all sectors of the economy, with larger layoffs in the leisure and hospitality industry — mainly restaurants and bars. They cut 7.6 million jobs, at least temporarily, as Americans stayed home.
Most retailers were also slammed, especially those without a strong online presence, as walk-in traffic dried up. Retail employment fell by 2.1 million.
The health-care industry, where employment has been growing for decades, was a surprising victim as well. Nearly 1.5 million jobs in the medical profession were scrubbed as patients avoided hospitals and elective procedures were put off.
Manufacturers lost 1.3 million jobs and construction companies slashed employment by almost 1 million.
Meanwhile, the Dow recently traded up 1.30% to 24,184 on less-than-average volume.
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