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U.S. Economy Loses 701,000 Jobs in March Due to Efforts to Contain Spread of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March due to the effects of the novel coronavirus and the efforts nationwide to slow the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the unemployment rate rose 90 basis points to 4.4 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.

Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000, mainly in food services and drinking places (-417,000). The hospitality sector was hit hardest due to many states issuing stay-at-home orders, airlines canceling flights and conferences nationwide being canceled or postponed indefinitely.

Notable declines also occurred in healthcare (-43,000), social assistance (-19,000), professional and business services (-52,000), retail trade (-46,000), and construction (-29,000).

Employment in the federal government rose by 18,000 in March, including 17,000 temporary workers for the 2020 United States Census.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised down by 59,000 from 273,000 to 214,000. The change for February was revised up by 2,000 from 273,000 to 275,000.

As of this writing, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) reports there are 245,601 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 6,058 deaths. The number of confirmed cases is up 30.5 percent from 188,200 as of Monday, March 30.

The latest job figures from the BLS do not reflect the millions of unemployment claims that Americans filed in the last two weeks of March. In the week that ended March 21, nearly 3.3 million people filed first-time unemployment claims, according to the U.S. Labor Department. That number doubled to 6.6 million in the week that ended March 28.

— Alex Tostado

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