May 08, 2020 - 6:00pm

How Devastating are the Unemployment Numbers? Here’s a Sector Breakdown.

April’s unemployment numbers are bad. Historically bad.

The coronavirus crisis drove payroll jobs down by 20.5 million. Total employment plunged 22.4 million, 14.4% down from the March total of 155.8 million. 

And this contraction does not include the approximately 7.7 million whom the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported were counted as employed even though they were absent from work for the entire survey reference week but not counted as furloughed. 

The unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7%, the greatest one month change in history, but would have been 19.7% if those 7.7 million extra absentees had been counted as furloughed.

No sector has been untouched, but some sectors were hammered harder than others as government-ordered closures or restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus affected some workers more directly than others. More than one quarter (26.8%) of the job losses came from bars and restaurants that were directly affected by closure orders. For sectors where sheltering employees had the practical option to continue working from home, the job losses were less. Workplaces deemed “essential” and exempt from closure mandates also fared better.

Employment in scenic and sightseeing transportation employment; amusements, gambling, and recreation; clothing and clothing accessories stores; laundry services; and dentist offices fell by more than half.

Motion pictures and sound recording; bars and restaurants; furniture stores; performing arts and spectator sports; accommodations; and apparel companies showed more than 40% employment declines.

The chart below shows how other sectors of the economy were affected.

The data is heart breaking, but it could have been worse. These numbers represent persons who were dropped from payrolls, but many remained on them even though their workplaces were closed. 

For example, 39% of scenic and sightseeing transportation jobs were still on payrolls, perhaps with their benefits continued and pay reduced.

This may be due to the Payroll Protection Program–PPP–(since many of these establishments are small business) which Washington was wise to quickly pass into law.

Future small business surveys–like the MetLife and U.S. Chamber Small Business Index–and other data sources will shed more light on the positive impact of PPP.

These numbers don’t tell the whole story. They don’t illustrate the hardship felt by millions of Americans who are out of work or trying to keep their businesses afloat.

It’s imperative that leaders in government and the private sector continue working day and night to help our fellow Americans in need and do all we can to safely reopen our economy and put people back to work.

INDUSTRY

APRIL JOB LOSSES

% OF INDUSTRY JOBS LOST

INDUSTRY SHARE OF THE TOTAL JOBS LOST

Food services and drinking places

    (5,491.3)

-46%

26.8%

Amusements, gambling, and recreation

    (1,062.0)

-60%

5.2%

Temporary help services

      (841.9)

-29%

4.1%

Accommodation

      (839.0)

-41%

4.1%

Personal and laundry services

      (796.9)

-53%

3.9%

Clothing and clothing accessories stores

      (739.6)

-58%

3.6%

Offices of dentists

      (503.3)

-52%

2.5%

Local government education

      (468.8)

-6%

2.3%

Educational services

      (457.1)

-12%

2.2%

Nonresidential specialty trade contractors

      (393.1)

-14%

1.9%

Motor vehicles and parts

      (381.5)

-38%

1.9%

Child day care services

      (336.2)

-33%

1.6%

Local government, excluding education

      (332.3)

-5%

1.6%

Residential specialty trade contractors

      (297.4)

-14%

1.5%

Automobile dealers

      (264.6)

-20%

1.3%

Miscellaneous store retailers

      (264.2)

-33%

1.3%

Services to buildings and dwellings

      (259.4)

-12%

1.3%

Membership associations and organizations

      (250.1)

-8%

1.2%

Offices of physicians

      (243.3)

-9%

1.2%

Individual and family services

      (241.3)

-9%

1.2%

Repair and maintenance

      (219.9)

-16%

1.1%

Performing arts and spectator sports

      (217.0)

-44%

1.1%

Motion picture and sound recording industries

      (216.5)

-48%

1.1%

Furniture and home furnishings stores

      (209.0)

-45%

1.0%

Offices of other health practitioners

      (205.1)

-21%

1.0%

Transit and ground passenger transportation

      (185.3)

-37%

0.9%

Durable goods wholesale trade

      (185.0)

-6%

0.9%

Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores

      (184.9)

-35%

0.9%

State government education

      (176.1)

-7%

0.9%

Department stores

      (160.8)

-15%

0.8%

Nondurable goods wholesale traded

      (148.2)

-7%

0.7%

Air transportation

      (140.7)

-27%

0.7%

Hospitals

      (134.9)

-3%

0.7%

Rental and leasing services

      (120.2)

-21%

0.6%

Residential building

      (117.6)

-14%

0.6%

Fabricated metal products

      (108.7)

-7%

0.5%

Employment services other than temp help

-103.90

-15%

0.5%

Real estate

      (101.3)

-6%

0.5%

Health and personal care stores

        (99.3)

-9%

0.5%

Home health care services

        (93.6)

-6%

0.5%

Business support services

        (93.5)

-11%

0.5%

Computer systems design and related services

        (93.2)

-4%

0.5%

Miscellaneous durable goods manufacturing

        (90.8)

-15%

0.4%

Nonresidential building

        (88.5)

-11%

0.4%

Truck transportation

        (88.3)

-6%

0.4%

Outpatient care centers

        (87.9)

-9%

0.4%

Food manufacturing

        (86.3)

-5%

0.4%

Architectural and engineering services

        (85.2)

-6%

0.4%

Other professional and technical services

        (84.3)

-11%

0.4%

Management of companies and enterprises

        (81.9)

-3%

0.4%

Machinery

        (79.5)

-7%

0.4%

Printing and related support activities

        (79.0)

-19%

0.4%

Heavy and civil engineering construction

        (78.9)

-7%

0.4%

Management and technical consulting services

        (78.5)

-5%

0.4%

Investigation and security services

        (77.3)

-8%

0.4%

Warehousing and storage

        (74.1)

-6%

0.4%

Accounting and bookkeeping services

        (67.6)

-6%

0.3%

Support activities for transportation

        (66.9)

-9%

0.3%

Plastics and rubber products

        (65.5)

-9%

0.3%

Legal services

        (64.0)

-6%

0.3%

Vocational rehabilitation services

        (63.9)

-20%

0.3%

Nonmetallic mineral products

        (61.6)

-15%

0.3%

Furniture and related products

        (59.2)

-15%

0.3%

Other support services

        (56.0)

-16%

0.3%

Miscellaneous nondurable goods manufacturing

        (54.9)

-17%

0.3%

Building material and garden supply stores

        (52.7)

-4%

0.3%

Nursing care facilities

        (47.2)

-3%

0.2%

Museums, historical sites, and similar institutions

        (43.8)

-25%

0.2%

Gasoline stations

        (43.4)

-5%

0.2%

Apparel

        (42.2)

-40%

0.2%

Food and beverage stores

        (42.0)

-1%

0.2%

Other motor vehicle dealers

        (40.7)

-25%

0.2%

Office administrative services

        (40.4)

-8%

0.2%

Travel arrangement and reservation services

        (40.0)

-19%

0.2%

transportt equip other than motor vehicles & parts

        (39.8)

-5%

0.2%

Auto parts, accessories, and tire stores

        (39.4)

-7%

0.2%

Advertising and related services

        (38.0)

-8%

0.2%

Primary metals

        (34.3)

-9%

0.2%

Community care facilities for the elderly

        (33.4)

-3%

0.2%

Support activities for mining

        (33.1)

-11%

0.2%

Nonstore retailers

        (32.4)

-6%

0.2%

Medical and diagnostic laboratories

        (31.2)

-11%

0.2%

Chemicals

        (31.1)

-4%

0.2%

Electronic markets and agents and brokers wholesale trade

        (29.6)

-6%

0.1%

Wood products

        (27.9)

-7%

0.1%

Electronics and appliance stores

        (27.3)

-6%

0.1%

Residential mental health facilities

        (26.9)

-4%

0.1%

Other ambulatory health care services

        (23.9)

-7%

0.1%

Scenic and sightseeing transportation

        (21.5)

-61%

0.1%

Textile product mills

        (21.1)

-19%

0.1%

Electrical equipment and appliances

        (20.8)

-5%

0.1%

Scientific research and development services

        (20.1)

-3%

0.1%

Textile mills

        (19.5)

-19%

0.1%

Publishing industries, except Internet

        (17.1)

-2%

0.1%

Specialized design services

        (15.3)

-11%

0.1%

Waste management and remediation services

        (13.1)

-3%

0.1%

Broadcasting, except Internet

        (12.0)

-5%

0.1%

Nondepository credit intermediation

        (12.0)

-2%

0.1%

Facilities support services

        (10.9)

-7%

0.1%

Activities related to credit intermediation

          (9.8)

-3%

0.0%

Depository credit intermediation

          (9.4)

-1%

0.0%

Emergency and other relief services

          (9.2)

-5%

0.0%

Petroleum and coal products

          (8.7)

-8%

0.0%

Paper and paper products

          (8.2)

-2%

0.0%

Electronic instruments

          (6.7)

-2%

0.0%

Data processing, hosting and related services

          (6.5)

-2%

0.0%

Coal mining

          (6.0)

-12%

0.0%

Water transportation

          (5.8)

-9%

0.0%

Other residential care facilities

          (5.6)

-3%

0.0%

Logging

          (5.0)

-9%

0.0%

Oil and gas extraction

          (4.8)

-3%

0.0%

Commercial banking

          (4.5)

0%

0.0%

Securities, commodity contracts, investments, and funds and trusts

          (4.4)

0%

0.0%

Insurance carriers and related activities

          (4.4)

0%

0.0%

State government, excluding education

          (4.3)

0%

0.0%

Utilities

          (3.3)

-1%

0.0%

Telecommunications

          (3.1)

0%

0.0%

Semiconductors and electronic components

          (2.5)

-1%

0.0%

Rail transportation

          (2.4)

-2%

0.0%

Nonmetallic mineral mining and quarrying

          (1.7)

-2%

0.0%

Pipeline transportation

          (0.9)

-2%

0.0%

Communications equipment

          (0.9)

-1%

0.0%

Lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets

          (0.4)

-2%

0.0%

Miscellaneous computer and electronic products

          (0.3)

-1%

0.0%

Metal ore mining

          (0.2)

0%

0.0%

Monetary authorities - central bank

            0.1

1%

0.0%

U.S. Postal Service

            0.5

0%

0.0%

Other information services

            0.5

0%

0.0%

Federal, except U.S. Postal Service

            0.6

0%

0.0%

Computer and peripheral equipment

            0.8

0%

0.0%

Couriers and messengers

            1.8

0%

0.0%

General merchandise stores, including warehouse clubs and supercenters

          93.4

5%

-0.5%

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