The U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, as many businesses either curtailed service or closed their doors indefinitely amid COVID-19.
The decline in jobs is the largest since the government began recording employment data in 1939, reports CNN. Throughout the Great Recession, the U.S. economy shed roughly 8.7 million jobs, with unemployment hitting 10 percent in October 2009, according to The New York Times.
The job losses in April put the U.S. unemployment rate at 14.7 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which monitors employment trends in the U.S., estimates unemployment during the Great Depression hit 24.9 percent in 1933.
The unemployment report shows 2.1 million retail jobs were lost in April, specifically within clothing, motor vehicle and parts dealers and home furnishings stores. Other retail sectors—including warehouse clubs and supercenters—gained 93,000 jobs in April.
Construction employment dropped by 975,000 in April. Specialty trade contractors were especially hard hit, losing roughly 690,000 of those jobs.
“This is the biggest and most acute shock that we’ve seen in post-war history,” says Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America.