WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, the steepest plunge in payrolls since the Great Depression and the starkest sign yet of how the novel coronavirus pandemic is battering the world’s biggest economy.
The Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report on Friday also showed the unemployment rate surging to 14.7% last month, shattering the post-World War Two record of 10.8% touched in November 1982. It strengthened analysts’ views of a slow recovery from the recession caused by lockdowns imposed by states and local governments in mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
The economic crisis spells trouble for President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term in the White House in November’s election. After the Trump administration was criticized for its initial reaction to the pandemic, Trump is eager to reopen the economy, despite a continued rise in COVID-19 infections and dire projections of deaths.
“If there is a silver-lining in today’s dismal jobs report, it is in the realization that the economy cannot possibly get any worse than it is right now,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. “Joblessness can only diminish fro
m this point forward as many states start reopening.”