March Snaps Historic Streak Of Job Growth For U.S. Economy, First Loss In 113 Months

The federal government’s latest job report for the month of March showed the end of a historic job growth streak in the United States.

A record 113-month streak was broken as the coronavirus outbreak has crippled the global economy, particularly bringing 10 million Americans to file for unemployment in the past two weeks.

For the first time since September 2010, the government dropped 701,000 jobs in March and saw the unemployment rate jump to 4.4 percent, Politico reports.

Politico reports the number will likely be higher as more data is collected:

But we know the number of job losses is actually far more massive given we’ve seen 10 million jobless claims over just the last two weeks, obliterating previous records and suggesting the unemployment rate is already close to 10 percent, matching the highest point of the Great Recession. It will almost certainly go significantly higher, possibly above the 24.9 percent hit during the Great Depression.

Economic growth is also dropping off a cliff with estimates for a first-quarter decline of around 4 percent and a second-quarter plunge of 25 percent or more. Stocks have crashed around 30 percent since setting record highs in February. Oil prices are tanking, which means cheap gas but also a massive hit to the energy sector, slamming red states the hardest.

“All of this means the fundamental pillars of Donald Trump’s presidency — a hot economy, strong job growth and a rocking stock market — have all been smashed to splinters by the coronavirus. The outbreak was obviously not Trump’s fault – though some criticize the speed of the administration’s response,” the report adds.

Reuters similarly reports the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic will likely not be seen until the April jobs reports released next month:

Friday’s report is far from an accurate depiction of the economic carnage being inflicted by the contagious coronavirus. The government surveyed businesses and households for the report in mid-March, before a large section of the population was under some form of a lockdown, throwing millions out of work.

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The report could sharpen criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the public health crisis, with President Donald Trump himself facing criticism for playing down the threat of the pandemic in its initial phases. Already, data has shown a record 10 million Americans filed claims for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks of March.

With jobless claims, the most timely indicator of labor market health, breaking records over the last couple of weeks and a majority of Americans now under “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders, Oxford Economics is predicting payrolls could plunge by at least 20 million jobs in April, which would blow away the record 800,000 tumble in March 2009.