Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

Unemployment climbs to 4.4 percent as economy ends nearly 10-year job gains streak

It's official: the United States' longest hiring streak ever has ended.

The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate rose from 3.5 percent to 4.4 percent amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, per NBC News. This ended a record 113 straight months of gains, and is the first decline in payrolls since September 2010, CNBC reports.

Still, economists have warned the worst is yet to come in the next report, as this Friday data is based on a survey conducted during the week ending on March 14, before many businesses had to close due to the pandemic. "Some economists project that report could show the economy shed 20 million jobs and the unemployment rate could rise to a record-high level," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Friday's report was still worse than many economists predicted, though, with some forecasting 150,000 jobs would be lost and the unemployment rate would rise to 3.9 percent. According to CNBC, "some two-thirds of the drop came in the hospitality industry, particularly bars and restaurants forced to close during the economic shutdown."

The Labor Department reported on Thursday that 6.6 million initial unemployment claims were filed last week, the highest weekly number ever recorded, doubling the record-high of 3.3 million from a week earlier. That unemployment report was also worse than had been anticipated. Prior to these two weeks, the most initial unemployment claims filed in a week since the data started being collected was 695,000 in October 1982.