U.S. non-farm payrolls in March fell by 701,000 and the unemployment rate rose to 4.4%. Some two-thirds of the drop came in the hospitality industry, particularly bars and restaurants forced to close during the economic shutdown due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
That headline number [of 701,000] reflects the count from establishments the government surveyed for its report. The household survey, which asks individual residences about their employment situation, showed a plunge of nearly 3 million.
The unemployment rate rose to 4.4% — from 3.5% — its highest level since August 2017 as employers just began to cut payrolls ahead of social distancing practices that shut down large swaths of the U.S. economy in order to stop the virus’s spread.
Despite the other bad numbers, wages continued to rise, increasing 3.1% year over year, slightly better than expected… Prior to the coronavirus hit, the economy had been humming along with an unemployment rate of 3.5%, the lowest in more than 50 years.
Though the March report does not capture the full extent of the employment collapse, it does hint at what’s to come. Citigroup estimated that the April count will show job losses “closer to 10 million.”
MacDailyNews Take: Hardly unexpected. It’ll get worse before it gets better, but it will get better!