U.S. employers shed 701,000 jobs in March as the coronavirus crisis began to impact the country. The unemployment rate rose to 4.4%. Year-over-year wage growth rose to 3.1%. This ends the longest continuous economic expansion in U.S. history.
The numbers are expected to grow even more bleak in the coming months. The March numbers are based on reports from the first two weeks of the month, before many states implemented stay-at-home orders. Therefore, the full impact is not yet known.
701,000: The U.S. economy shed 701,000 jobs in March
4.4%: The unemployment rate rose to 4.4%
3.1%: Average hourly wages rose 3.1% over the last year.
The March Losses
The job losses are most significant in the leisure and hospitality sector, which shed 459,000 jobs as bars and restaurants closed and international and most domestic travel came to a halt. The March jobs report was the biggest monthly drop since the worst months of the Great Recession.
According to the New York Times, even industries that had initially continued running, like manufacturing, are starting to see major impacts as factories close. The job losses are also spread across industries considered essential, including healthcare, as dentists and other non-essential healthcare providers have closed their doors until the pandemic lifts.
There are very few bright spots in the report. Some employers in the transportation and warehousing sector and grocery stores have picked up hiring to meet increased demands.
What’s to Come
The numbers are likely to get far worse in the coming months. As MarketWatch reports, the March numbers don’t reflect the approximately 10 million people who filed for unemployment during the final two weeks of the month.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. could lose 27.9 million jobs and have an unemployment rate as high as 16% by the end of May. The nonpartisan congressional budget office predicts that unemployment will pass 10% in the second quarter of the year. April’s job report could show the largest ever drop in employment.