The Labor Department’s monthly jobs report has laid bare the devastating economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, showing that the U.S. unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent in April, with 20.5 million people put out of work. That shatters the the post-World War II record of 10.8 percent in November 1982. The rate was 4.4 percent in March, and the spike is a record on a month-to-month basis. The number of unemployed Americans was listed at 23.1 million. The number of people who usually work full-time dropped by 15 million over the month, and the number who usually work part-time declined by 7.4 million, according to the report. The worst-hit sector was leisure and hospitality, with the number of jobs plummeting by 7.7 million, or 47 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report said nearly three-quarters of the decrease occurred in food services and drinking places. Employment in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry lost 1.3 million jobs and the accommodation sector saw 839,000 positions vanish.
Across the board, the numbers delivered shock after shock: 2.5 million unemployed in education and health services; professional and business services and retail each out 2.1 million; 1.3 million in manufacturing; government employment off 980,000; and construction down 975,000. For those still employed, average hourly wages rose by $1.34 to $30.01, but economists said that merely reflected the carnage among the millions who lost low-wage jobs.