Covid-19: US Sheds 701,000 Jobs In March

LAGOS APRIL 4TH (NEWSRANGERS)-The US economy shed 701,000 jobs last month as the coronavirus crisis brought the nation’s nine-year hiring streak to a screeching halt, new federal data show.

The losses in non-farm payrolls reflected a massive contraction from February, when the economy added a revised total of 275,000 jobs, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. And the unemployment rate reached its highest level since August 2017 at 4.4 percent last month, a jump the feds attributed to the virus and nationwide efforts to contain it.

“Most of us are surprised to see how drastic the drop is this early,” Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao told The Post. “I think that what this tells us is that employers were quicker to start layoffs and furloughs than we had anticipated.”

But worst has yet to come — the survey used to create the monthly report was conducted in the first half of March, before lockdown measures aimed at stopping the coronavirus became widespread.

That means the numbers don’t account for the nearly 10 million jobless claims American workers filed in the last two full weeks of the month, which represent some 6 percent of the US workforce.

“We know that our report next month will show more extensive job losses,” US labor secretary Eugene Scalia said in a Friday statement.

The March jobs report nonetheless shattered economists’ expectations of 100,000 lost jobs and 3.8 percent unemployment. Moreover, the feds indicated the unemployment rate could have been almost 1 percentage point higher than reported because of issues with how certain workers were classified.

The US had seen 113 straight months of job growth before the pandemic gutted the national economy, capped by February’s expectation-beating numbers. But those didn’t capture global travel restrictions, the shutdowns of non-essential businesses that have swept the US, or the mass layoffs that followed.

Restaurants and bars accounted for nearly 60 percent of last month’s job losses, with employment plunging by 417,000. That drop almost offset the industry’s gains over the previous two years, officials said.

Even more layoffs could slam the sector given that last month’s losses account for just about 3 percent of the nation’s restaurant employment, according to Curt Long, chief economist and vice president of research at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions.

“These are generally lower-wage jobs, and so it’s probably a lot of folks who are living paycheck to paycheck anyways,” Long told The Post. “Obviously this hits them hard.”

Experts expect the April report — which won’t be released for another month — to more accurately capture the full scale of job losses not seen in decades.

Estimates vary for just how high the unemployment rate will climb this month. But experts expect it will surpass the Great Recession’s peak of 10 percent — a level not breached since 1983, federal data show.

“We don’t yet know how deep this crisis will be, but what we do know already is that the pace of the economic disruption we are seeing is unprecedented,” Glassdoor’s Zhao told The Post.

New York Times

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Posted by on Apr 4 2020. Filed under Health, International, National. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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