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COVID-19 Crisis Continues to Take a Huge Toll on Jobs

Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose…

  • May 24, 2020

Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.

The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. Employment fell sharply in all major industry sectors, with particularly heavy job losses in leisure and hospitality.

This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry.

The Biggest Unemployment Rate Increase Since Records Kept

In April, the unemployment rate increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7 percent. This is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series (seasonally adjusted data are available back to January 1948).

The number of unemployed persons rose by 15.9 million to 23.1 million in April. The sharp increases in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it.

In April, unemployment rates rose sharply among all major worker groups. The rate was 13.0 percent for adult men,15.5 percent for adult women, 31.9 percent for teenagers, 14.2 percent for Whites, 16.7 percent for Blacks, 14.5 percent for Asians, and 18.9 percent for Hispanics.

The rates for all of these groups, with the exception of Blacks, represent record highs for their respective series.

The number of unemployed persons who reported being on temporary layoff increased about ten-fold to 18.1 million in April. The number of permanent job losers increased by 544,000 to 2.0 million.

In April, the number of unemployed persons who were jobless less than 5 weeks increased by 10.7 million to 14.3 million, accounting for almost two-thirds of the unemployed. The number of unemployed persons who were jobless 5 to 14 weeks rose by 5.2 million to 7.0 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 939,000, declined by 225,000 over the month and represented 4.1 percent of the unemployed.

The labor force participation rate decreased by 2.5 percentage points over the month to 60.2 percent, the lowest rate since January 1973 (when it was 60.0 percent).

Total employment, as measured by the household survey, fell by 22.4 million to 133.4 million. The employment-population ratio, at 51.3 percent, dropped by 8.7 percentage pointsover the month. This is the lowest rate and largest over-the-month decline in the history of the series

The number of persons who usually work full time declined by 15.0 million over the month, and the number who usually work part time declined by 7.4 million. Part-time workers accounted for one-third of the over-the-month employment decline.

The number of persons at work part time for economic reasons nearly doubled over the month to 10.9 million.

These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. This group includes persons who usually work full time and persons who usually work part time.