U.S. Payrolls Crash More Than Expected, COVID-19 Infects Jobs Market With Surge In Layoffs

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
unemployment jobs market
U.S. payrolls crashed more than expected in March as the COVID-19 virus infected the jobs market, resulting in a significant surge in layoffs. People wait in line for help with unemployment benefits, March 17, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

U.S. payrolls crashed more than expected in March, faring much worse than the last recession as the coronavirus pandemic infected the jobs market with a surge of layoffs.

Employment numbers for March fell 701,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to February. The March numbers were far worse than the median 100,000 jobs decline forecast by economists polled by Bloomberg.

March was the first month the U.S. economy lost jobs since September 2010, and the worst month for American jobs since the depths of the Great Recession in March 2009, according to CNN Business.

The U.S. labor market was the best it had been in more than 50 years to reach a half-century unemployment low. But analysts at Cornell University and other institutions said that the data was misleading as the quality of jobs had deteriorated over the years.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that unemployment rose to 4.4 percent in March, up from a 50-year low of 3.5 percent in February, as the coronavirus pandemic-struck employers had to lay off workers.

Close to 10 million people filed for unemployment benefits in just two weeks as the coronavirus infections and deaths gathered pace across the U.S., overwhelming unemployment office websites and call centers with the volume of applications.

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Most of the job losses took place at restaurants and bars, where the economy lost 417,400 jobs, while retailers cut 46,200 jobs and healthcare employment fell by 43,000 jobs as routine visits to dentists and physicians’ offices fell.