The devastating impact of the compulsory economic shutdown has swamped the latest Labor Department job numbers in April, with jobs losses topping 20 million. Construction non-seasonally adjusted figures were also slammed by the downturn with unemployment climbing to 16.6 percent [a jump of 970 basis points above March, and up 1190 basis points from a year ago in April 2019 when it stood at only 4.7%]. This month, employment in the construction industry contracted by a stunning (206,000) positions.
The overall unemployment figure hit a record level since being tracked by DoL (starting in 1948) at 14.7 percent, up 1030 basis points in a month. (“Unemployed persons” also spiked 15.9 million to a total of 23.1 million per the government count). Conversely, the “labor force participation” rate tumbled down 250 basis points to 60.2 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL)]. The “employment to population ratio” fell by 870 basis points to 51.3 percent. Although the average hourly earnings for employees improved -- up by $1.04 per hour, it was a consequence of the increasing unemployment levels among hourly wage earners.