May 11, 2020

April unemployment rate skyrockets, breaks several all-time records

Jobs Report Data FlashThe unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7 percent, the largest month-over-month increase in the history of the series dating back to January 1948. Although historical data begins in 1948, NAFCU Chief Economist and Vice President of Research Curt Long said "the current crisis is likely to challenge even Depression-era estimates of joblessness, generally believed to have peaked at around 25 percent."

“[T]his report underestimates current levels of unemployment,” said Long in a new NAFCU Macro Data Flash report. “Individuals on furlough are supposed to report as temporarily unemployed, but many reported instead as being employed but absent from work. Without such reporting errors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the unemployment rate would have been close to 20 percent.

“Furthermore, the survey was conducted three weeks ago, and millions more have filed for unemployment benefits since then,” noted Long.

Other insights from the report indicate negative results among the major industries, too. The leisure and hospitality sector shed 7.7 million jobs, followed by the education and health sector losing 2.5 million jobs. The professional and business services sector and the retail sector each lost 2.1 million jobs.

Average hourly earnings rose $1.34 in April to $29.96 over the time period, reflecting that job losses have disproportionately impacted lower-income workers.

“There is still hope that many of these job losses will prove temporary, but in order for that to happen, more support is needed for small businesses,” Long concluded.