More than 20 million people in the US lost their jobs in April and the unemployment rate more than trebled as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the world’s largest economy, triggering a financial crisis unseen since the Great Depression.
The Department of Labor announced Friday that the US unemployment rate rose to 14.7% from just 4.4% in March and a near 50-year low of 3.5% in February before the US was hit by the virus. A decade’s worth of job gains have now been wiped out in under two months. The latest jobs losses are the worst monthly figure on record. The closest comparison came in 1933 when unemployment hit an estimated 25% but that was before the government began publishing official statistics.
The previous peak for unemployment was 10.8% in 1982 and the largest monthly job loss, close to 2million, came in September 1945 at the end of the second world war, when the country was demobilizing. April’s job losses also easily eclipsed the 800,000 jobs lost in March 2009, the height of the last recession.