Economy Loses 20.5 Million Jobs in April; Unemployment Jumps to 14.7%

Economy Loses 20.5 Million Jobs in April; Unemployment Jumps to 14.7%

The U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, taking payroll employment back to levels last seen in spring 2011 when the economy was recovering from the Great Recession, and the unemployment rate jumped by a historic amount to 14.7%, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for white males is 12.4%, the largest for white men in the post-World War II era and the first time it has been in double digits since that era. 

In response to the April job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

Every sector saw job losses in April. The largest losses were in leisure and hospitality (-7.7 million), education and health services (-2.5 million), professional and business services (-2.1 million), retail trade (-2.1 million), manufacturing (-1.3 million), other services (-1.3 million), government (-980,000), construction (-975,000), transportation and warehousing (-584,000), wholesale trade (-363,000), financial activities (-262,000), information (-254,000), and mining (-46,000).

In April, unemployment rates rose among all major worker groups. The rate was 31.9% for teenagers, 18.9% for Hispanics, 16.7% for blacks, 15.5% for adult women, 14.5% for Asians, 14.2% for whites and 13.0% for adult men. The rates for all of these groups, except black Americans, represent record highs in the history of this measure.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 225,000 in April and accounted for 4.1% of the unemployed, as a sign of discouraged workers.

In advance of the release of the April job numbers, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke about the unemployment crisis and what needs to be done about it:

Trumka said:

Here is the good news: there are practical solutions on the table. We can use federal funding to keep people employed and guarantee everyone’s paycheck for the duration of the crisis. This concept is neither new nor radical. It’s been done before. Employers that have to lay off workers or shut down can certify their payrolls to the federal government. The government pays for the employer to pay their employees. No money goes to CEOs or to Wall Street—just to workers.

Payroll support has been endorsed across the political spectrum, from Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri to Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. It’s supported by Alabama’s Doug Jones and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. And it’s gaining traction among both business and labor. Yes, we must work out the details. But that’s what governing is. What better time to put aside party labels and do what is necessary to keep America whole?

Trust me, every worker would rather receive a paycheck than an unemployment check. But that’s not all we want. Our jobs are a source of dignity. A piece of our pride. We are ready to get back to work. We are ready to rebuild America—a nation built by unions. We’ve made this country better, and we’re going to do it again.

Kenneth Quinnell
Fri, 05/08/2020 – 12:52

Updated: May 15, 2020 — 5:40 am