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Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series.
The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. Employment fell sharply in all major industry sectors, with particularly heavy job losses in leisure and hospitality.
In April, manufacturing employment dropped by 1.3 million. About two-thirds of the decline was in durable goods manufacturing (-914,000), which saw losses in motor vehicles and parts (-382,000) and in fabricated metal products (-109,000). Nondurable goods manufacturing shed 416,000 jobs.
Construction employment fell by 975,000 in April, with much of the loss in specialty trade contractors (-691,000). Job losses also occurred in construction of buildings (-206,000). Employment fell in transportation and warehousing in April (-584,000). Transit and ground passenger transportation and air transportation lost 185,000 jobs and 141,000 jobs, respectively. Wholesale trade shed 363,000 jobs in April, largely reflecting losses in the durable and nondurable goods components.