The month of March brought a screeching halt to America’s historic, 113-month-streak of steady job growth.
Numbers from the U.S. Labor Department on Friday show companies shed more than 700,000 jobs.
And while a worldwide coronavirus epidemic was expected to hit employment hard, Friday’s number was seven times higher than economists expected.
Bankrate's senior economics analyst, Mark Hamrick: SOUNDBITE: BANKRATE WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF AND SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, MARK HAMRICK, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Well, we're clearly living in something the likes of which we've never experienced in our lifetimes and, in some ways, never in our history, because what's quite unique and we're all living it every day, is that aspects of the economy have been brought to a stop." Two thirds of those losses came from the leisure and hospitality sectors: think the bars and restaurants now shuttered amid stay-at-home orders across the country.
But the job cuts also fell heavily in healthcare, retail, and professional services.
And there’s more bad news: The unemployment rate shot up from 3.5 percent in February to 4.4 percent in March.
The grim data all but confirms that a recession is underway.
And the picture is likely much worse than this batch of data show: The payrolls survey was taken in mid-March, just before many local authorities ordered lockdowns that shut down schools and businesses.
That resulted in a record 10 million Americans filing for jobless benefits in the last two weeks of the month.