More than 700,000 non-farm jobs were lost in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, causing the unemployment rate to jump to 4.4%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Of the approximately 701,000 jobs lost, about 459,000 were in leisure and hospitality – mainly in food services and drinking places – according to the BLS’ data.
Notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction.
It was the largest monthly increase in the unemployment rate since January 1975.
The number of unemployed persons rose by 1.4 million to 7.1 million.
The good news is that wages continued to increase for those who are still working. Hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls increased by 11 cents to $28.62.
Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.1%.
Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 10 cents to $24.07 in March.
First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming points out that home building and remodeling lost 4,500 jobs in March – which will likely slow the pace of home construction.
“While many stay-at-home orders exempt construction, housing is not immune,” Fleming says.
“This report doesn’t cover the most recent weeks and understates the current reality,” Fleming adds. “This recession is unique in the speed of its development and that it is driven by the service sector, instead of business investment.”