Not since American factories called it quits after winning World War II and sending workers home to their families have so many jobs been lost in a single month.
The U.S. economy shed 20.5 million jobs in April and the unemployment rate shot up to its highest level ever as the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 abruptly cut the livelihoods of millions of Americans and forced them to stay at home.
The April unemployment rate rose to 14.7%, eclipsing the previous record rate of 10.8% for data tracing back to 1948, as employers from Wall Street to Main Street to the local mall cut positions and furloughed staff.
The numbers, which were better than Wall Street’s dire forecasts of 22 million lost jobs, still eclipsed the previous record of 1.96 million jobs lost in 1945 at the end of World War II.
Though widespread and extensive, the damage was only recorded by the Labor Department up to mid-April and likely missed a wide swath of reporting as states scurried to record official job losses and related claims, was still breathtaking.
Another component that likely has made the figures even more difficult to analyze was the sheer number of Americans who most likely stopped looking for work - either because they were worried about exposing themselves to the virus or, more likely, presumed companies and entire industries were not looking to hire.
A more encompassing measure that includes those who have stopped looking for work as well as those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons also hit an all-time high of 22.8%, the government said. The jump in the “real” unemployment rate reflected a plunge in the labor participation rate to 60.7%, its lowest level since 1973.
"Donald Trump and the U.S. Federal Reserve are facing their Everest, and have a phenomenal challenge ahead to restore the economy to some level of normality," said Crimson Black Capital CIO Ayush Ansal.
“Markets knew this was coming but it will still go down as the darkest day in the country's economic history."
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