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Job losses hit as low as the Great Depression

Written By: Emma Headrick

In just April alone, 20.5 million jobs were lost in the United States, causing payroll unemployment to fall in such a way that has not been seen since the Great Depression in the early 20th century. These staggering numbers have caused many to realize just how much this global pandemic will affect the world.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has risen to 14.7 percent as of April 12, 2020, surpassing the post-World War Two record of 10.8 percent in November 1982. These shocking numbers have only highlighted the economic recession caused by lockdowns imposed by states and local governments in an effort to keep COVID-19 at bay, the respiratory illness that has ripped across the United States and around the world.


Though many jobs are likely to be recouped as large parts of the country reopen, the hit to the labor market and economy may put a strain on President Donald Trump's campaign for the 2020 presidential election. The president and his administration have been criticized by most of the country and the world for their response to the global pandemic since its initial outbreak in the United States, spelling trouble for his bid for a second term.


As the total number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in the United States close in on 80,000 and the amount of infections near 1.3 million, Trump has been pushing for the economy to be reopened, despite the grave warnings given to him by experts of what could happen if the economy were to open back up right now.


Economists polled by Reuters originally forecasted the survey of establishments would show non-farm payrolls diving by 22 million. Data for March was revised to show 870,000 jobs were lost rather than 701,000 as previously reported, proving that the record streak of job growth dating back to October 2010 ended in March.


The job losses reported in the last two months have pushed non-farm employment to its lowest level since February 2011. Job losses have been across the board, with leisure and hospitality industry payrolls plunging 7.7 million. Restaurants and bars have accounted for nearly three-quarters of the decline.


Despite the growing need for healthcare workers across the country, healthcare employment declined by 1.4 million jobs, with decreases at offices of dentists, doctors, other health practitioners and hospitals.


Dentists have closed offices, while hospitals have seen a decline in patient visits as people stay at home in fear of contracting COVID-19. Hospitals have also suspended elective surgeries to focus on the treatment of COVID-19 patients.


The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the organization responsible for compiling the employment report, said the response rate for the establishment survey had returned to a normal range last month. But it changed estimation methods to better account for the historic number of temporary or permanent business closures across the United States.

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