The U.S. economy shed a record 20.5 million payrolls in April, and the unemployment rate jumped to 14.7%, as the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses across the country to temporarily shut down and lay off or furlough workers.

Here were the main figures from the U.S. Department of Labor’s report released Friday morning, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Change in non-farm payrolls: -20.5 million vs. -22 million expected and -870,000 in March

  • Unemployment rate: 14.7% vs. 16.0% expected and 4.4% in March

  • Average hourly earnings month on month: +4.7% vs. +0.4% expected and +0.5% in March

  • Average hourly earnings year on year: +7.9% vs. +3.3% expected and +3.3% in March

Estimates for April’s change in non-farm payrolls and unemployment rate each spanned a wide range, as economists grappled with gauging the damage as businesses across the country laid off and furloughed workers at a historic rate.

At 20.5 million, the actual decline in payrolls for the month was by far the worst on record, according to government monthly payrolls data spanning back to 1939. The worst fall in payrolls amid the global financial crisis was by 800,000 in March 2009.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This followed March’s revised payrolls decline of 870,000, which captured just the very start of the nationwide lockdowns and business closures, since the Labor Department uses the week of the 12th for its reference period.” data-reactid=”25″>This followed March’s revised payrolls decline of 870,000, which captured just the very start of the nationwide lockdowns and business closures, since the Labor Department uses the week of the 12th for its reference period.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The unemployment rate surged to 14.7% in March, the highest on record based on monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics data spanning back to 1948. The monthly unemployment rate was estimated to have been about 25% at the peak of the Great Depression in 1933.” data-reactid=”26″>The unemployment rate surged to 14.7% in March, the highest on record based on monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics data spanning back to 1948. The monthly unemployment rate was estimated to have been about 25% at the peak of the Great Depression in 1933.

Meanwhile, average hourly earnings rose well above consensus expectations both over last month and last year. Heading into the report, some economists had expected wage gains to come in at an even quicker clip than the median estimate suggested, “boosted by compositional effects as a result of the rapid destruction of low wage earners,” Sam Bullard, Wells Fargo Securities senior economist, said in a note Thursday.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="In all, the April report affirmed the cataclysmic labor market conditions already illustrated in other private and government prints. On Wednesday, ADP reported that employers cut private payrolls by a record 20.236 million in April. And initial unemployment claims for the past seven weeks have totaled 33.5 million, with the majority of these coming in April as much of the country went into lockdown.” data-reactid=”28″>In all, the April report affirmed the cataclysmic labor market conditions already illustrated in other private and government prints. On Wednesday, ADP reported that employers cut private payrolls by a record 20.236 million in April. And initial unemployment claims for the past seven weeks have totaled 33.5 million, with the majority of these coming in April as much of the country went into lockdown.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This post is breaking. Check back for updates.” data-reactid=”29″>This post is breaking. Check back for updates.

People who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, U.S. April 6, 2020. REUTERS/Nick OxfordPeople who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, U.S. April 6, 2020. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
People who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, U.S. April 6, 2020. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

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