In March, jobs fell by 701,000, showing the wreckage caused by the coronavirus crisis. Last month is the first time the BLS has reported a loss in jobs since September 2010. This is no surprise as unemployment claims spiked to 6.6 million (from March 22-28) as Americans struggle to cope with the economic impact of COVID-19. As a result, the unemployment rate surged to 4.4%, the highest rate since August 2017.
Let’s take a brief look at the March 2020 Jobs Report
The industry that was hit the hardest from the COVID-19 pandemic was the Leisure and Hospitality industry, with a loss of 459,000 jobs. That’s nearly two-thirds of the total job losses for March. Most of these job losses are from bars and restaurants that are sadly forced to close during the shutdown to help flatten the curve of the virus. However, as soon as these establishments can open up their doors again, the majority of these jobs will return.
Other industries hit hard by the virus were Healthcare (-61,000), Professional & Business Services (-52,000) Retail Trade (-46,000), and Construction (-29,000). Employment for the Federal Government actually rose by 18,000 jobs as the U.S. prepares to facilitate the 2020 Census.
Despite all this negativity, average hourly earnings continued to rise with an $0.11 increase to $28.62 per hour. Over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.1%.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic
Before the pandemic sweeping the world, the labor market was holding steady, with jobs gains averaging +243,000 jobs over the prior three months. And in February alone, job gains clocked in at a mind-blowing 275,000 jobs. The unemployment rate was also sitting pretty at 3.5% – a 50-year low. And in 2019, average monthly job gains equaled 178,000 jobs. In other words, the economy and job market were humming along strongly until the pandemic.
Stay calm and stay patient
Yes, there is no disputing that these numbers are devasting. And this is just the begging as economists believe the March 2020 Jobs Report is only an indication of what’s to come in April. But social distancing is working. Data from California and Washington state show that “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders are helping to flatten the curve of new cases. The sooner we overcome this virus, the sooner we can all go back to work. Yes, this virus is keeping people from working, but if we take the proper precautions, we can overcome this battle and return to our everyday lives.