Unemployment and the Depression
Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. Employment fell sharply in all major industry sectors, with particularly heavy job losses in leisure and hospitality.
This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry. ...
Household Survey Data In April, the unemployment rate increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7 percent. This is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series (seasonally adjusted data are available back to January 1948). The number of unemployed persons rose by 15.9 million to 23.1 million in April. The sharp increases in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it. ...
The labor force participation rate decreased by 2.5 percentage points over the month to 60.2 percent, the lowest rate since January 1973 (when it was 60.0 percent). Total employment, as measured by the household survey, fell by 22.4 million to 133.4 million. The employment-population ratio, at 51.3 percent, dropped by 8.7 percentage points over the month. This is the lowest rate and largest over-the-month decline in the history of the series (seasonally adjusted data are available back to January 1948). (See table A-1.)
Establishment Survey Data Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, after declining by 870,000 in March. The April
over-the-month decline is the largest in the history of the series and brought employment to its lowest level
since February 2011 (the series dates back to 1939). Job losses in April were widespread, with the largest
employment decline occurring in leisure and hospitality. (See table B-1. For more information about how the
establishment survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus, see the box note at the end of the news