BLS Releases April 2020 Employment Situation (May 2020)
Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. Employment fell sharply in all major industry sectors, with particularly heavy job losses in leisure and hospitality.
In April, the unemployment rate increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7 percent. This is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series (seasonally adjusted data are available back to January 1948). The number of unemployed persons rose by 15.9 million to 23.1 million in April. The sharp increases in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it.
Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, after declining by 881,000 in March. The April over-the-month decline is the largest in the history of the series and brought employment to its lowest level since January 2011 (the series dates back to 1939). Job losses in April were widespread, with the largest employment decline occurring in leisure and hospitality.
In April, employment in leisure and hospitality plummeted by 7.7 million, or 47 percent. Almost threequarters of the decrease occurred in food services and drinking places (-5.5 million). Employment also fell in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry (-1.3 million) and in the accommodation industry (-839,000). Employment declined by 2.5 million in education and health services in April. In health care, employment declined by 1.4 million, led by losses in offices of dentists (-503,000), offices of physicians (-243,000), and offices of other health care practitioners (-205,000). Employment also declined in social assistance (-651,000), reflecting job losses in child day care services (-336,000) and individual and family services (-241,000). Employment in private education declined by 457,000 over the month. Professional and business services shed 2.2 million jobs in April. Sharp losses occurred in temporary help services (-842,000) and in services to buildings and dwellings (-259,000).
In April, employment in retail trade declined by 2.1 million. Job losses occurred in clothing and clothing accessories stores (-740,000), motor vehicle and parts dealers (-345,000), miscellaneous store retailers (-264,000), and furniture and home furnishings stores (-209,000). By contrast, the component of general merchandise stores that includes warehouse clubs and supercenters gained 93,000 jobs. In April, manufacturing employment dropped by 1.3 million. About two-thirds of the decline was in durable goods manufacturing (-914,000), which saw losses in motor vehicles and parts (-382,000) and in fabricated metal products (-109,000). Nondurable goods manufacturing shed 416,000 jobs.
Employment in the other services industry declined by 1.3 million in April, with nearly two-thirds of the decline occurring in personal and laundry services (-797,000). Government employment dropped by 980,000 in April. Employment in local government was down by 801,000, in part reflecting school closures. Employment also declined in state government education (-176,000).
Construction employment fell by 975,000 in April, with much of the loss in specialty trade contractors (-691,000). Job losses also occurred in construction of buildings (-206,000). Employment fell in transportation and warehousing in April (-584,000). Transit and ground passenger transportation and air transportation lost 185,000 jobs and 141,000 jobs, respectively. Wholesale trade shed 363,000 jobs in April, largely reflecting losses in the durable and nondurable goods components. Employment in financial activities fell by 262,000 over the month, with the vast majority of the decline occurring in real estate and rental and leasing (-222,000). Employment in information fell by 254,000 in April, driven by a decline in motion picture and sound recording industries (-217,000). Mining lost 46,000 jobs in April, with most of the decline occurring in support activities for mining (-33,000).
In April, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by $1.34 to $30.01. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by $1.04 to $25.12 in April. The increases in average hourly earnings largely reflect the substantial job loss among lower-paid workers; this change, along with earnings increases, put upward pressure on the average hourly earnings estimates.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 34.2 hours in April. In manufacturing, the workweek declined by 2.1 hours to 38.3 hours, and overtime declined by 0.9 hour to 2.1 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 33.5 hours.
The full BLS press release on the April 2020 employment situation can be accessed in the link below.
The next employment situation report for May 2020 is scheduled to be released on Friday, June 5, 2020.