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News > U.S.

US Economy Lost 701,000 Jobs in March, Figures Will Rise

  • The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March due to COVID-19.

    The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March due to COVID-19. | Photo: EFE

Published 3 April 2020

This is the most significant job loss since March 2009, when the financial crisis sank the world’s economies.

The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent amid the new coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced Friday.


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This is the most significant job loss since March 2009, when the financial crisis sank the world's economies.

In February, the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, the lowest level in almost 50 years.

The most affected sectors were jobs in restaurants and bars, where the economy lost 417,400 jobs. Retailers cut 46,200 jobs, and health care employment fell by 43,000 jobs as routine visits at dentists and physicians offices fell.

Meanwhile, sectors like hospitality, tourism, and entertainment were — unsurprisingly — first in facing layoffs, job losses over the next weeks will come from a broader range of sectors, the Daniel Zhao, senior economist at careers website Glassdoor told to CNN.

"White-collar jobs are not safe from this," Zhao added.

The BLS also announced that the labor market will probably start to look a whole lot worse starting next month, as the numbers featured in the report come from two surveys conducted during the week including the 12th day of the month, which in this case was the second week in March. Business closures and stay-at-home orders were only just beginning that week and didn't pick up steam until the week after.

However, the April jobs report, which won't be released until May 8, could include the nearly 10 million Americans who filed for first-time unemployment benefits as the outbreak forced businesses to close and people to stay home.

Other experts also warned of the worst unemployment forecasts, such as the St. Louis Fed, which predicted that unemployment could rise above 30%. If that happens, that will be higher than in the Great Depression. The unemployment rate peaked at 24.9% in 1933, according to historical estimates from the BLS.

For her part, the Stifel chief economist Lindsey Piegza told CNN that she is also forecasting peak unemployment of about 30%, saying in a report Friday that "as we continue to keep the economy closed, more than 45 million Americans are expected to lose their jobs."

The highest the unemployment rate went in the Great Recession was 10% in October 2009 while the Congressional Budget Office expects the unemployment rate to climb past 10% in the second quarter, it said Thursday.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government, following the pressure generated by the pandemic, has launched stimulus policies such as the CARES Act through which it is expected that in the coming weeks, many Americans will receive one-off stimulus checks of as much as $1,200. 

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