Jobs losses related to the new coronavirus and government-imposed business closures designed to slow its spread dwarf employment declines seen during prior U.S. recessions in their speed and intensity.
Losses since U.S. employment peaked in February represent a decline of more than 14%, according to Labor Department data and Bill McBride, author of Calculated Risk. That eclipses even the job losses seen during the Great Recession and financial crisis period, when the U.S. economy lost north of 6% of its peak employment from 2007.
The Labor Department’s April 2020 jobs report showed that payrolls plunged by 20.5 million last month while the unemployment rate rocketed to 14.7%, record levels in the post-World War II era.
Many state governments across the country have ordered the majority of businesses closed to slow the spread of Covid-19. Governors from New York to California ordered a wide swath of their commerce closed, shuttering bookstores, dine-in restaurants and florists across March and April.