The United States economy came to a screeching halt in March amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. lost 701,000 jobs last month, according to a U.S. Labor Department report released on Friday.
It’s the first monthly job loss in the country since 2010, bringing an end to an unprecedented 113-month run of economic success. Compared with the numbers of people recently applying for unemployment benefits — nearly 10 million in the previous two weeks — the figure announced Friday was somewhat modest.
“This is nothing compared to what we’re going to see,” Stephanie Pomboy, president of MacroMavens, an independent research firm, told The New York Times.
The unemployment rate rose to 4.4% from 3.5% in February, which is the largest monthly increase in the rate since January 1975. However, economists expect unemployment to reach double digits in April.
The Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday that it expected unemployment to top 10% for the second quarter of 2020 — as high as the peak in the last recession — and to remain at 9% at the end of 2021.
There’s hope that the legislative actions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act as well as the $2 trillion COVID-19 emergency relief package will keep the economy afloat while also providing funds to small businesses in need and laid-off workers.
“Since the Great Depression the U.S. has had 17 recessions, with nine of those lasting less than one year,” said Scott Cawood, president and CEO of WorldatWork. “Quick, targeted and extensive action by the Senate and House will go a long way in helping save lives as well as help our economy rebound more quickly and get more people back to work.”
About the Author
Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.