The U.S. economy shed a record 20.5 million jobs in April as the unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7% — more than quadrupling from the rate seen before the coronavirus outbreak — according to government data released Friday.
Why it matters: It’s by far the worst jobs report in history, highlighting the depth of the unprecedented toll the pandemic is having on the labor market.
By the numbers: Not since the Great Depression has the unemployment rate been this high.
- The speed with which the job destruction happened is also staggering: the unemployment rate jumped 10.3% in a single month, which has never happened before in history.
Between the lines: You’re only counted as unemployed if you’re actively looking for work, but many Americans aren’t looking for work because of state-imposed lockdowns — effectively warping the rate.
- Another 9.9 million people were jobless, but not counted as unemployed because they weren’t actively looking for work.
- Labor Department officials also said if certain jobless workers were considered unemployed rather than “absent from work,” then the unemployment rate “would have been almost five percentage points higher,” per the release.
“This is just a recurring experience, which is you look at the numbers, and they’re bigger than you ever imagined could be possible,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “And then you look at the size of the problem and you think that’s perfectly justified.”
Congress has approved nearly $3 trillion in spending in the past two months to try to arrest the economic fallout of the crisis. Because revenue is falling, Treasury is planning to issue large amounts of debt to cover these costs.