More than 20 million Americans lost their jobs last month due to the coronavirus pandemic in the country’s worst monthly loss on record.
US unemployment shot up from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April, a monthly employment report has revealed.
The figures from the Department of Labor show that nearly all of the progress made since the 2008 financial crash has been wiped out by COVID-19.
In February, the unemployment rate was at a 50-year-low of 3.5%, but with businesses going bust and employers forced to lay off staff or put them on furlough, the 11-year recovery since the last crisis has been destroyed in just four weeks.
Now just 51.3% of working-age Americans have jobs – the lowest level on record.
On top of the job losses, another 5.1 million workers had their hours reduced in April.
Though some businesses are beginning to reopen in certain states; factories, hotels, restaurants, resorts, sporting venues, cinemas and many small businesses remain closed.
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A total of 26.5 million people applied for unemployment benefits during April and the last week of March.
Like in the UK, the US had largely gone on lockdown by the end of March, with 32 out of 50 states implementing a near-total economic shutdown.
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Certain states, particularly New York, have ramped up measures in a desperate bid to keep fatalities down, leaving the economy at a standstill.
President Donald Trump withdrew up to $500 million (£401 million) of World Health Organization (WHO) funding at the beginning of the outbreak and trillions of dollars have been injected into the economy from the Federal Reserve.
Some economists believe the worst damage to the job market has already been done and things will start to improve as the months continue.
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The Congressional Budget Office has forecast that the unemployment rate will be 9.5% by the end of next year.
But experts at the San Francisco Federal Reserve estimate it will take until at least mid-2021 for levels to go back to a normal level of around 4%.
Senior economic analyst at Bankrate Mark Hamrick told NBC: “If we thought the worst we’d ever see with economic data would be during the financial crisis and Great Recession, the virus proved us wrong.”