The U.S. government on Friday is poised to report the worst set of jobs numbers since record-keeping began in 1948, a snapshot of the devastating damage the coronavirus outbreak has inflicted on the economy.
The unemployment rate for April could reach 16% or more, according to economists surveyed by the data provider FactSet. Twenty-one million jobs may have been lost. If so, it would mean that nearly all the job growth in the 11 years since the Great Recession ended had vanished in one month.
Even those numbers won’t fully capture the scope of the damage the coronavirus has inflicted on jobs and incomes. Many people who are still employed have had their hours reduced. Others have suffered pay cuts. Some who lost jobs in April and didn’t look for a new one in light of their bleak prospects won’t even be counted as unemployed. A broader measure — the proportion of adults with jobs — could hit a record low.
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The scale of the job loss has been breathtakingly sudden.
During the Great Recession of 2008-2009, the nation lost 6.5% of its jobs over a two-year span.