The US unemployment rate rose to 14.7%, with 20.5 million jobs lost in April, as the coronavirus pandemic devastated the economy.
This increase means that the unemployment rate is now worse than ever since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has experienced its worst growth in a decade and the worst retail sales report ever.
Just two months ago, the unemployment rate was 3.5%, a 50-year low.
Weekly figures released Thursday showed that an additional 3.2 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. This brings the total number of jobless claims since mid-March to 33.3 million, or about 20% of the US workforce.
In recent weeks, companies such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb have been among the companies that announced the cuts, as the closings have interrupted major trips.
The impact has been felt throughout the economy, affecting medical offices, restaurants and administrative workers, among others. The number of new claims reported each week by the United States Department of Labor has decreased since it peaked at 6.9 million in March.
But they remain extraordinarily high.
And the number of people receiving benefits has continued to increase, despite recent measures to start reopening in parts of the country.
The US economy “in a medically induced coma”
Analysis by Natalie Sherman, BBC News
“This is historically unprecedented,” said economist Erica Groshen, former director of the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the United States government, who now teaches at Cornell University. “We plunged our economy into a medically induced coma to cure it of the pandemic … and this led to the most precipitous job loss of all modern data. “
As early as February, the US unemployment rate was at historic lows, around 3.5%. But since mid-March, when authorities began imposing work placement orders, employers have killed millions of people.
About a fifth of the workforce – more than 33 million people – had applied for unemployment in the past seven weeks.
Many hope that the job losses will only be temporary. Some states have already started to relax the restrictions, but the recovery of the economy may be difficult as workers worry about the risk of infection and face the impact of school closings.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen next,” said Tanya Nikolaevskaya, legal assistant in New York, who was put on leave last month after working from home in March.
Ms. Nikolaevskaya hopes to resume what she described as her dream job “but she has a health problem and is a single mother, whose 8-year-old daughter will need care if the schools do not reopen.”
“It is a question of” are there any child care services, “she said. “If I don’t have babysitting, I won’t be able to go back. “