The U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April and the unemployment skyrocketed to 14.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The unemployment rate rose from the prior month’s 4.4%, with CNN reporting this being the most-sudden decline on monthly job losses since data started being tracked in 1939.
CNN adds the last time jobless was this severe was more than 80 years ago during the Great Depression, when the unemployment rate peaked at 24.9% in 1933, according to historical data by the BLS.
Unemployment rates in April rose among all working demographics. The rate for adult men was 13%; 15.5% for adult women; 31.9% for teenagers; 14.2% for whites; 16.7% for African-Americans; 14.5% for Asians; and 18.9% for Hispanics.
The rates for all groups, with the exception of African-Americans, are all record highs.
The number of people reporting to being temporarily laid off rose to 18.1 million in April.
Unemployment fell among all categories, including construction, which lost 975,000. Most of the losses recorded were for specialty trade contractors (-691,000).
Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Association of Homebuilders, employment for homebuilding and remodeling fell to 2.54 million in April—the lowest level since November 2015.
First American Financial Corporation’s Deputy Chief Economist Odeta Kushi called the April jobs report “unprecedented,” noting losses have erased the decade of job gains since the Great Recession.
Kushi added that while most of the losses were concentrated in leisure and hospitality, the housing industry reported an 11% annual decline in residential construction workers.
“The loss in residential construction jobs negatively impacts the pace of home building because building a home does not readily lend itself to outsourcing and automation,” she said. “The housing market needs new supply at every point of the income spectrum, and it’s very hard to build more homes without increasing residential construction employment and productivity.”
The one silver living, Kushi said, is that 78.3% of those who lost their jobs classified it as a temporary layoff, while 11.1% said it was permanent.
“While this trend may change in future reports, for now, it offers some optimism that employment relationships can be maintained for some time,” she said.