The impact of the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown tore through the U.S. labor market in April at historic levels, slashing 20.5 million workers from nonfarm payrolls and sending the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 14.7%, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting payrolls to shed 21.5 million and the unemployment rate to go to 16%.
April’s unemployment rate topped the post-war record 10.8% but was short of the Great Depression high estimated at 24.9%.
The jump in the “real” unemployment rate reflected a plunge in the labor participation rate to 60.7%, its lowest level since 1973.
The April numbers represent a stark reversal for a jobs market that had been on fire only two months ago.