Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
The U.S. unemployment rate surged to 14.7 percent in April, the highest level since the Great Depression, as the deadly novel coronavirus forced an unprecedented shutdown of the nation's economy.
More than 20 million Americans lost their jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday, essentially erasing all of the job gains in the decade since the 2008 financial crisis. That was the steepest loss on record since 1939, easily topping the previous one-month drop of 1.96 million in September 1945, at the end of World War II.
The private sector accounted for the bulk of job losses, shedding more than 19.5 million workers last month.
The leisure and hospitality sector saw the biggest plunge, as expected, accounting for more than one-third of total losses as restaurants, bars, hotels, movie theaters and entertainment venues were forced to close to protect public health. The industry eliminated more than 7.6 million workers in April — with nearly 5.5 million stemming from food services and drinking places.
CORONAVIRUS LAYOFFS HURTING LOW-INCOME WORKERS THE MOST, STUDY FINDS
The overall unemployment rate for service occupations skyrocketed from 4 percent in March to 27.1 percent last month, stunning evidence of the pandemic's stranglehold on the industry.
"It’s hard to imagine an industry losing more than half its workforce in a single month, and it wasn’t the only one to do so," said Jeoff Hall, a managing economist at Refinitiv. "It’s also hard to imagine these jobs springing back in May or June."
VIRUS OUTBREAK COULD FORCE HALF OF SMALL BUSINESSES TO CLOSE WITHIN 6 MONTHS
Still, no industry was immune to the coronavirus-induced downturn. Behind the leisure and hospitality sector
Retail lost 2.1 million jobs, and professional and business services lost more than 2.1 million workers last month.
FED'S KAPLAN WARNS OF 'HISTORIC' CONTRACTION, SEES NEED FOR MORE STIMULUS
Manufacturing and other services dropped by 1.1 million each. Government jobs also decreased by 980,000, while transportation and warehousing dropped by 584,000.
Health care saw a decline of more than 1.4 million, with hospitals making up about 134,900 of those losses and dentist offices accounting for 503,000. Employment in the social assistance sector plummeted by 650,000.