Covid-19 pandemic sends US jobless rate to 14.7%

The US unemployment rate has risen to 14.7%, with 20.5 million jobs lost in April, as the coronavirus pandemic devastated the economy.

The rise means the jobless rate is now worse than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Since the pandemic began, the US has suffered its worst growth numbers in a decade and the worst retail sales report on record.

Just two months ago, the unemployment rate was at 3.5%, a 50-year low.

Weekly figures released on Thursday showed a further 3.2 million Americans sought unemployment benefits last week. That brings the total number of jobless claims since mid-March to 33.3 million- or about 20% of the US workforce.

In recent weeks, companies such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb were among the firms that have announced cuts, as shutdowns halted significant amounts of travel.

The impact has been felt across the economy, affecting medical practices, restaurants and administrative workers among many others. The number of new claims reported each week by the US Department of Labor has subsided since hitting a peak of 6.9 million in March.

But they remain extraordinarily high.

And the number of people collecting benefits has continued to rise, despite recent moves to start re-opening in some parts of the country.

BBC

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