US unemployment hits 14.7% after 20m jobs are lost in just one month

US unemployment hits a post-WWII record of 14.7% after 20m jobs are lost in just one month

By Hugo Duncan for the Daily Mail

Published: | Updated:

Unemployment in the United States has soared to a record high after the loss of more than 20m jobs in just one month.

In a sign of the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on business, the unemployment rate in the world’s largest economy hit 14.7 per cent last month.

That was up from a near-50-year low of 4.4 per cent in March and shattered the post-Second World War record of 10.8 per cent reached in November 1982.

The US unemployment rate has hit 14.7 per cent after the loss of more than 20m jobs in just one month

The Labor Department’s monthly report also showed the US economy lost a staggering 20.5m jobs in April alone – or around one million every working day.

It was the steepest plunge in employment since the Great Depression and the starkest sign yet of how Covid-19 is battering the US economy – and denting President Trump’s bid for a second term.

‘If there is a silver lining in the dismal jobs report, it is in the realisation that the economy cannot possibly get any worse than it is right now,’ said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

The carnage has been echoed around the world.

The Bank of England this week warned that Britain faces its deepest recession for more than 300 years. UK output is forecast to fall by 30 per cent in the first half of the year and by 14 per cent in 2020 as a whole.

£100bn hit to UK economy 

The coronavirus lockdown has wiped almost £100billion off the economy as the UK falls into the deepest recession for more than 300 years.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated that the closure of shops, pubs, restaurants, offices and factories is costing the UK economy £2billion a day. 

That means it has already knocked £96billion – or around 5 per cent – off gross domestic product in the 48 days since Boris Johnson announced restrictions on March 23.

The Bank of England this week warned that Britain faces its worst recession since the ‘Great Frost’ of 1709.

The eurozone is also facing its worst-ever recession amid fears that the crisis is threatening the stability of the single currency bloc.

Warning that the economic calamity ‘poses a threat to the single market and the euro area’, Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for the economy, said: ‘Europe is experiencing an economic shock without precedent since the Great Depression.’

Despite the dismal US jobs figures, shares on Wall Street rose in early trading as investors welcomed an easing of tensions between Washington and Beijing and gave a sigh of relief unemployment wasn’t even higher.

While the stock exchange in London was closed for the Bank Holiday, the tech-dominated Nasdaq in New York has regained its 2020 losses triggered by the coronavirus, and now stands above where it started the year.

Darrell Cronk, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment in New York, said: ‘What is striking is the speed at which we have lost jobs. When you compare this to the Great Depression in the 1930s it took a full year for the unemployment rate to go up 8 per cent.’

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