Unemployment Soars to 14.7%, Record 20.5 Million Jobs Lost in April

Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest monthly decline on record. Employment has fallen to its lowest level since February 2011. The national unemployment rate increased to 14.7%, the highest unemployment rate and largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series (data are available back to January 1948). Total unemployed persons rose to 23.1 million in April, the result of the corona-virus pandemic and efforts to contain it.


Job losses in April were widespread across almost all industries, with the largest decrease in leisure and hospitality. The leisure and hospitality industry lost 7.7 million jobs. Employment declined by 2.5 million in education and health services in April.

Goods-producing employment dropped by 1.3 million jobs during the month, manufacturing led the decline with a drop in employment of 914,000. Construction employment decreased by 691,000.

The civilian labor force participation rate fell by 2.5 percentage points over the month to 60.2 %, the lowest rate since 1973.  Workers unemployed less than 5 weeks increased by 10.7 million to 14.3 million, accounting for almost two-thirds of the unemployed. Unemployed workers who were jobless 5 to 14 weeks increased by 5.2 million to 7.0 million. The number of long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 225,000 over the month.

While average hourly earnings rose by $1.34 to $30.01, the increase was largely a result of considerable job loss among lower-paid workers; this change put upward pressure on the average hourly earnings estimates.

Read the BLS release.