U.S. Unemployment Reaches 14.7%, Highest Since Great Depression

Perhaps these twenties won't be "roaring" for a while.
A face mask covers the nose and mouth of a sculpture entitled “Cowboy’s Day Off” along Washington Avenue Thursday, May 7, 2020 (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Many U.S. employers cut 20.5 million jobs in April, a record-shattering number that pushed unemployment to 14.7 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression, as the coronavirus pandemic triggered an unprecedented economic catastrophe.

What We Know:

  • The grim Labor Department report provides one of the most comprehensive looks at the economic damage inflicted by the virus outbreak and subsequent stay-at-home measures mandated by states to curb the spread of COVID-19.
  • More than a decade of job gains were erased in a single month. The stunning job losses are more than double what the U.S. saw during the 2008 financial crisis, and is now closing in to the predicted 16.4% for May.
  • Economists surveyed by Refinitiv expected the report to show that unemployment rose to 16 percent in April and that employers shed 21.8 million jobs, essentially erasing all job gains in the past decade.
  • A more inclusive measure of what’s called underemployment, which counts those not looking for work and individuals who are reduced to part-time hours for economic reasons, hit an all-time high of 22.8 percent.
  • As expected, the leisure and hospitality sector bore the biggest brunt of job losses, shedding more than 7.6 million jobs in April alone, 5.5 million that stemmed from eating and drinking establishments.

The waves of layoffs caused by the paralyzed U.S. economy has pushed the half-century low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent in February, to the highest level since record-keeping began in 1948. The previous record was 10.8 percent in late 1982. Previously, the largest one-month job loss number was 1.96 million in September 1945, at the end of World War II.




Javier Garay is Media & News SVCS Intern at UnmutedCo.