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Economy Loses 701,000 Jobs in March; Unemployment Jumps to 4.4%

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The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate jumped by nearly a point to 4.4%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

In response to the March job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said:

Though the recent spikes in unemployment claims were not captured in the March report, we experienced our steepest monthly decline in payrolls in this report since March 2009. Especially hard hit were the lowest wage sectors of the economy: leisure and hospitality and brick and mortar sections of the retail industry. Going forward, based on the unemployment claim numbers, things will get worse.

Last month’s biggest job losses were in leisure and hospitality (-459,000), health care and social assistance (-61,000), professional and business services (-52,000), retail trade (-46,000), construction (-29,000), other services (-24,000), manufacturing (-18,000) and mining (-6,000). Federal government employment added 18,000 jobs, primarily 2020 Census workers. Employment in other major industries—including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial activities—changed little over the month.

In March, unemployment rates rose among all major worker groups. The rate was 14.3% for teenagers, 6.7% for blacks, 6.0 % for Hispanics, 4.1% for Asians, 4.0% for adult men, 4.0% for adult women and 4.0% for whites.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) showed little change in March and accounted for 15.9% of the unemployed.

This blog was originally published by the AFL-CIO on April 3, 2020. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Kenneth Quinnell is a long-time blogger, campaign staffer and political activist. Before joining the AFL-CIO in 2012, he worked as labor reporter for the blog Crooks and Liars.


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