Unemployment Gets Sick from Covad-19

The March unemployment report is the first major visual onlsaught of a global pandemic consequences.  From here it's only going to get worse as these results are from last month.  The unemployment rate jumped from 3.5% to 4.4% over one month.  That hasn't happened since 1975.  Labor participation rate also plunged.  If gets even worse.  The BLS had trouble even collecting data for their figures as businesses and people survey respondants were down over 9% on both surveys.


unemployment rate


Payrolls shows a similar debacle as overall jobs dropped by -701,000.



Over half those jobs, 459,000, were lost in Leisure and Hospitality, shown below.



In turn, most of the job losses from the leisure and hospitality categories were in food and drink places.  This should be no surprise since they were the businesses almost first shut down to try to stop the spread of Covad-19.  Food and drink jobs by themselves dropped 283,800 for the month.


food service jobs


Even more frightening was the reported increase in temporary layoffs was 1.8 million and that number will surely jump much higher next month's report.  There are additional issues with the BLS statistics in that reference weeks are different for the two different unmployment surveys, payrolls or CES and the CPS, population survey.  Worse, the BLS is still old school and conducts some of these statistical gatherings in person as from the Census and needless to say that was curtailed due to virus exposure risk.


The labor participation rate is now 62.7%, which is a -0.7 percentage point change from last month.  That's significant and we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg in how Covad-19 is decimating the economy and people's livelihoods along with their lives.


labor participation rate


According to the BLS a large number of workers were misclassified as absent from work and that's the wrong category for their unemployment statistics.  If these workers were reclassified as unemployed or on temporary layoff the unemployment rate would have been 5.4%.  That's probably a record unemployment increase in a very short period.

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