Key Highlights

  • US Labor Department delivered history book news: 14.7% unemployment rate and loss of 20.5M jobs in April
  • Before April 2020, worst monthly job loss equaled 800,000 during Great Recession and highest monthly job loss was 2M in 1945

April 2020 became the worst ever for unemployment rates and job losses, according to the US Department of Labor. In this latest jobs report, unemployment reached a total of 33.5M workers filing for insurance benefits, or an unemployment rate of 14.7%.

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Industries across the board suffered these losses. Take a look at the carnage from January – April 2020:

  • Leisure and hospitality lost 7.6M jobs
  • Retain lost 2.1M jobs
  • Health care sectors lost 2.1M jobs
  • Manufacturing lost 1.4M jobs
  • Government sector jobs dropped by 980,000
  • Construction lost 962,000 jobs
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities lost 3.1M jobs
  • Education and Health Services lost 2.6M jobs
  • Professional and Business Services lost 2.2M
  • Information lost 258,000 jobs
  • Mining and Logging lost 55,000 jobs
  • Financial Activities lost 243,000 jobs
  • Other Services lost 1.3M jobs

Because this report was based on surveys done in mid-April and claims for jobless benefits indicated that millions of additional jobs have since been lost, this latest report does NOT convey the full story. Also, this headline unemployment figure includes ONLY people actively looking for work and people on temporary furloughs…it does not include the millions who have been involuntarily put out of work due to the pandemic

A more inclusive government measure would be closer to a 22.8% unemployment rate IF people who’ve given up looking for work and people working less than they would like were included in these numbers.

Kevin Hassett, a White House economic adviser, said that this economic downturn has NOT hit bottom. He believes, “The next jobs report is going to look worse than this one. I think we’re definitely going to be looking at one more month of catastrophically and tragically bad data”…data that will likely reflect an official unemployment rate of approximately 20%.

Which demographic groups lost the biggest share of jobs in this total 14.7% rate of unemployment?

  • 9% of LatinX workers lost jobs, the highest job loss rate on records going back to the 19
  • 7% of African American workers, the highest rate since early 2010
  • 2% of women lost 11.9M jobs, more than the 10.4M jobs lost by men
  • 5% of men lost jobs

The only good news in this latest report from the US Labor Department is that most newly unemployed workers, 78.3% of them, believe they will become re-employed in the next six months. If such a scenario turns out to be true, short-term job losses may indicate that hiring may come back quickly. On the other hand, temporary layoffs can become permanent if the economic situation becomes worse than it is now.


Thanks to The New York Times and National Public Radio.

Also read: Staggering: 30M+ Unemployed in 6 Weeks, What You Need to Know About Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Podcast: Who Can You Believe? Confusing Economic and Housing Reports | Tim and Julie Harris

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