(Reuters) – The job losses suffered in March when the US economy closed before the new coronavirus pandemic was widespread but still felt disproportionate in a handful of employment sectors and by women, young and less educated.
Colored scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (red) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (yellow), also known as new coronavirus, isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH / Handout via REUTERS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT ̵
A total of 701,000 jobs were reported lost last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, but even the huge number – the largest since the financial crisis 11 years ago – did not capture the real depth of the losses as the monthly survey was also conducted in early March.
Yet it shows that even in the earliest stages of the closures of companies that have since spread across the country, the cuts were best known in industries such as hotels, restaurants and education when the travel industry closed, bars and eateries closed their doors, and day care centers closed , all in order to limit the spread of the disease.
And perhaps, ironically, in the midst of a health crisis, the healthcare sector was among the most affected as providers of almost any service except emergency care for those affected by COVID-19, lung disease caused by the new coronavirus, discontinued surgery and stopped seeing patients.
The following diagram shows a picture of how Mars’s job losses – which will certainly be revised higher and followed by even larger cuts in April – are played out in different industries and demographic groups.
Graphics: What sectors lost jobs in March? – reut.rs/2wP4ynv
The leisure and hospitality sector lost 459,000 jobs – 65% of all lost positions in March. The loss, the largest monthly decline in the sector ever, wiped out two years of employment gains in the industry.
The largest proportion of these came from restaurants and bars, which reduced 417,000 jobs.
About 76,000 health and education opportunities were eliminated, led by 29,000 cuts at dentists and doctors’ offices and another 19,000 at day care centers.
The federal government sector emerged as a rare example of net gains last month, thanks to the addition of 17,000 temporary workers for the 2020 census.
Graphics: Unemployment over age and race – reut.rs/346fk4K
Unemployment fell to 4.4% from a half-century low of 3.5%, the largest one-month increase in unemployment since 1975.
By race or ethnicity, the largest increases among Asians and Latinos were seen, with increases of 1.6 percentage points each, almost twice as much as an increase of 0.9 percentage points. Both whites and African Americans saw their interest rates rise at the same rate as the national interest rate, although unemployment for blacks – at 6.7% – is 65% higher than for whites by 4%.
The youngest workers were also the most likely to lose their jobs in the early stages of closure.
The unemployment rate for teenagers rose by 3.3 percentage points to 14.3% and for those aged 20 to 24, by 2.3 points – most since 1953 – to 8.7%.
In contrast, unemployment for those in the 25 to 34 age group increased by only 0.4 percentage point to 4.1%. Unemployment for workers aged 45 to 54 rose 0.7 percentage points to 3.2%, the lowest for all age groups.
Graphics: Unemployment between sex and education – reut.rs/3aGQlr7
Workers with lower levels of education were also at work at a higher rate in March.
The rate for workers without a high school diploma jumped by 1.1 percentage points to 6.8%, the highest in almost three years.
For persons with a college degree, unemployment rose by 0.6 percentage point to 2.5%. It was still the largest monthly increase in pace for the demographic since the Labor Department began tracking it in the early 1990s.
And finally, there was a noticeable gender difference in the rise in unemployment last month. The unemployment rate for men increased by 0.7 percentage point, while the proportion of women rose 0.9 percentage point, perhaps due to their greater representation in the most severely affected employment sectors such as hospitality and health care.
The total level for both sexes over 20 years now amounts to 4%.
Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Daniel Wallis