The official unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in March 2020, up from 3.5 percent in February. That increase was the largest of any month since January 1975. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, though, that the March reference periods for their surveys predated many business and school closures that occurred in the second half of the month. The charts below provide additional detail on the individuals who reported that they were unemployed in the March report.
Much of the current labor market data are based on a survey that asked respondents about their employment during the second week of March. As a result, those data only tell part of the story of how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the labor market, and subsequent data will show even more extreme job losses. Nonetheless, the data available thus far provide a valuable look into where the labor market is heading, and who might need assistance moving forward.
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