Unemployment rate balloons to highest level since early 1930s

The coronavirus pandemic destroyed 20.5 million U.S. jobs in April, driving the unemployment rate to a post Word War Two high of 14.7% as the country faced its biggest economic crisis in almost a century.

The trail of job losses was heaviest at restaurants, retailers and…

hotels, but every major industry suffered. The health-care sector even lost nearly 1.5 million jobs amid the worst health crisis in American history, according to the Labor Department data released Friday morning.

The unemployment rate leaped to 14.7% from a 50-year low of just 3.5% two months ago, but the share of idled workers is much higher.

If millions of Americans who have been furloughed and expect to return to their jobs are counted, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the jobless rate would have almost 5 percentage points higher at nearly 20%.

A broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged job seekers and other people on the fringes of the labor market skyrocketed to a record 22.8% in April, painting an even grimmer picture.

In seven weeks since the virus shut down much of the U.S. economy, more than 33 million people have applied for unemployment benefits. The numbers are still growing by several million a week.

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