The latest jobs report, by the numbers

Written by:
May 8, 2020

The latest jobs report, by the numbers

The spread of COVID-19, and the work being done to flatten the curve, has roiled employment numbers for another month. The unemployment rate in the United States climbed to 14.7% in April, according to the latest numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Overall, non-farm payroll employment—all jobs that don't include farm employees, unincorporated self-employed, private household employees, proprietors, and unpaid volunteers—dropped by 20.5 million in April. Leisure and hospitality industries, deemed nonessential, represent the hardest-hit sector, as countless businesses from travel agencies to spas shuttered their doors

Using the most recent jobs report from the BLS (released May 8, 2020), Stacker broke down updates to employment numbers around the country. The BLS report covers statistics from two monthly surveys: a households survey, which looks at labor force status by demographic; and an establishments survey, which measures non-farm earnings, employment, and hours. All numbers represented, unless otherwise indicated, refer to those for the month of April; changes refer to the difference between March and April 2020 numbers.

23.1 million Americans are now unemployed

The unemployment rate in April rose 10.3 percentage points from 4.4% to 14.7%, applying to 23.1 million unemployed people (up from 15.9 million). March’s 4.4% unemployment was an increase from 3.5% in February.

Unemployment among adult women ballooned to 15.5%

Unemployment rates rose by 11.5 percentage points for women, while adult men’s unemployment rate grew by 9 percentage points in April to 13%. Teenage unemployment hit 31.9%, while unemployment numbers reached 14.2% among whites, 16.7% for blacks, 14.5% among Asians, and 18.9% for Hispanics.

18.1 million unemployed people have been furloughed

Temporary layoffs for workers ballooned by roughly tenfold in April. Permanent job losses spiked by 544,000, from 1.456 million to 2 million.

14.3 million people are newly unemployed

People who were jobless for less than five weeks in April comprised nearly two-thirds of all unemployment, representing an increase of 10.7 million. Those without a job for between five and 14 weeks rose to 7 million, a 5.2-million-person increase. There was a decline in the number of people who have been without a job for at least 27 weeks, down 225,000 people to 939,000 (or 4.1% of those who are unemployed).

Labor force participation is at 60.2%

Labor force participation as of April—60.2%—was the lowest since January 1973. The overall employment-population ratio fell 8.7 percentage points to 51.3%, the biggest drop-off since data for this metric began in 1948.

15 million fewer workers are full-time

The significant drop in full-time workers was echoed by part-time workers, who were reduced by 7.4 million people.

10.9 million part-time workers are seeking full-time employment

Twice as many people in April as in March worked part-time jobs while looking for full-time work. For some of these workers, their hours had been reduced from full-time; others normally worked part-time and were looking to find jobs with more available hours.

The number of people who qualify as ‘discouraged’ is about the same

"Discouraged" workers are those classified as being out of work and not looking for work because they believe there are no available jobs. There were 574,000 “discouraged workers” in April, a slight uptick from the 514,000 cited in BLS jobs data for March 2020.

Non-farm payroll employment dropped by 20.5 million

Non-farm payroll employment dropped by 870,000 in March, but declined by 20.5 million jobs in April. The latter is the biggest decline since data was first gathered in 1939.

Leisure and hospitality employment cratered by 47%

Of the 7.7 million jobs lost in the leisure and hospitality industries, nearly three-quarters were in food services and drinking places( 5.5 million). The second-highest share of the loss fell to the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry with 1.3 million jobs lost.

Education and health services jobs are down by 2.5 million

In addition to the massive loss to education and health services, health care employment suffered a drop of 1.4 million. Of those jobs lost, the most—503,000—affected dentists. Social assistance jobs also declined by 651,000, with over 50% in children’s daycare services.


2.1 million jobs were lost in professional and business services

Professional and business services, which include everyone from lawyers and ad executives to financial analysts and human resource managers, lost 2.1 million jobs in April. The most significant number within those losses came in temporary help services (842,000 jobs).

Retailers shed 2.1 million jobs

Unsurprisingly, retailers suffered major losses (2.1 million) amid stay-at-home recommendations and increased remote work. Clothing and clothing accessories stores lost the most, with 740,000 jobs shed. J. Crew and Neiman Marcus in early May announced they had each filed for bankruptcy, while Nordstrom announced it would be closing 16 stores for good.

Manufacturing jobs are down by 1.3 million

The U.S. manufacturing sector is responsible for producing 18.2% of all goods made around the world. But from March to April, 1.3 million manufacturing jobs dried up. A full two-thirds of those losses came from durable goods manufacturing jobs, including 382,000 jobs lost related to motor vehicle production and 109,000 in fabricated metal products.

Two-thirds of service-industry jobs lost were in laundry services

The “other services” industry as a whole saw a reduction of 1.3 million jobs in April. The largest subset of that was in personal and laundry services, which accounted for 797,000 jobs lost.

Government jobs fell by 980K

While public employees are widely considered to have more job security than those in the private sector, government employment numbers in April still showed a significant dip. Local government jobs accounted for 801,000 positions lost.

Construction jobs are down 975K

Specialty trade contractors, which include plumbers, electricians, and painters, comprise the largest proportion of construction jobs lost with 691,000. Jobs related to building construction also saw a sharp drop of 206,000.

Transportation and warehouse jobs dropped by 584K

With thousands of flights from major U.S. airlines canceled, air transportation jobs declined by 141,000. Ground passenger transportation jobs were reduced by 185,000.


Real estate markets account for most of 262K jobs lost in financial activities

Despite many real estate companies pivoting quickly to virtual tours, Facebook Live tours, and video meetings with clients, the real estate, rental, and leasing sectors lost 222,000 jobs in April. Despite this figure, in May, real estate brokerage firm Redfin announced a 73% increase in first-quarter revenue over 2019 and that 135 of its employees had been asked back from furlough.


Mining jobs decreased by 46K

Mining jobs represent a varied industry covering everything from geologist to lab tech. Support activities for mining accounted for 72% of the jobs lost.

Average hourly wages for non-farm payrolls are up—but that’s not a good thing

Higher average earnings in April doesn’t mean more people received raises; in this case, it means more lower-wage workers were fired. Wages rose, on average, by $1.34 an hour to $30.01. Among private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, wages climbed from $24.08 to $25.12.

Workweeks have mostly held

Workweeks among employees on private non-farm payrolls, along with workweeks for production and nonsupervisory employees on private non-farm payrolls, grew by 0.1 hours in April to 34.2 and 33.5 hour respectively. Manufacturing jobs saw a shrinking workweek, down from 40.4 hours to 38.3.


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