It’s only the beginning.
The U.S. economy shed 701,000 jobs in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, as the coronavirus rapidly spread across the country. The unemployment rate rose to 4.4%.
The figures are just a snapshot of the economic toll coronavirus is taking. The monthly jobs report comes after record weekly jobless claims, which have totaled 10 million over the past two weeks.
“The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it,” the bureau wrote.
Food and bar establishments were especially hard hit as the hospitality industry saw 459,000 job losses, according to the report, which also mentioned “notable declines” in employment in retail, health care, construction, professional services, and social assistance.
Justin Wolfers, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, warned that because data was gathered three weeks ago, the true unemployment figures are actually “much worse.”
It may be jarring to see in the official numbers that the unemployment rate has risen from 3.5% to 4.4%
But the reality is much worse: My calculations suggest that in the ensuing three weeks since these numbers were collected, the unemployment rate has risen to 13%.
— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) April 3, 2020
That’s why the Labor Department had reported a record-breaking 3.3 jobless claims in the week ending on March 21, only for that figure to get eclipsed the following week with a staggering 6.6 million claims.
The steep plunge in employment marks the end of an almost decade-long run of job creation.