COVID-19

U.S. economy loses 701,000 jobs, unemployment rises to 4.4%

Janet Nguyen Apr 3, 2020
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amstockphoto/Getty Images
COVID-19

U.S. economy loses 701,000 jobs, unemployment rises to 4.4%

Janet Nguyen Apr 3, 2020
amstockphoto/Getty Images

The Labor Department’s March jobs report reveals that the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 4.4% and the economy lost 701,000 jobs, breaking a more than 9-year streak of job gains.

Here’s a look at how employment has changed since the start of the Great Recession:

In the prior 12 months, non-farm employment growth had averaged 196,000 per month, according to the report.

While the monthly jobs report is typically a good indication of how the economy is doing, these latest numbers don’t even capture the full scope of the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because these latest figures are based on surveys of employers and households that were conducted March 7–14.

In a more up-to-date snapshot, the Labor Department reported yesterday that a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment claims last week. (Before the spread of COVID-19, the highest number on record had been 695,000 during a week in 1982). 

In February, the unemployment rate had dipped to 3.5% — the lowest it’s been in more than 50 years. Economists expect the unemployment rate will soon surpass the Great Recession high of 10%.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Which businesses are allowed to reopen right now? And which businesses are actually doing so?

As a patchwork of states start to reopen, businesses that fall into a gray area are wondering when they can reopen. In many places, salons are still shuttered. Bars are mostly closed, too, although restaurants may be allowed to ramp up, depending on the state. “It’s kind of all over the place,” said Elizabeth Milito of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Will you be able to go on vacation this summer?

There’s no chance that this summer will be a normal season for vacations either in the U.S. or internationally. But that doesn’t mean a trip will be impossible. People will just have to be smart about it. That could mean vacations closer to home, especially with gas prices so low. Air travel will be possible this summer, even if it is a very different experience than usual.

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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