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Unemployment Rate Soars to 14.7 Percent, the Worst Since the Great Recession

Vista Theater Los Angeles Movie Theaters
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

The U.S. unemployment rate soared to 14.7% in April, surpassing the worst figure of the Great Recession, as the coronavirus caused 20.5 million people to lose their jobs.

The 10.3% increase from March, when the rate was 4.4%, is the largest jump since the government began to collect employment data in 1948.

In the motion picture and sound recording industry, the unemployment rate jumped to 31.3%, as some 217,000 people lost their jobs in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate in the industry was 1.8% in the March report. The category includes production and theater workers, who were laid off or furloughed as the entertainment industry came to a standstill.

Another 217,000 people lost their jobs in the category of performing arts and spectator sports, and 1,062,000 lost jobs in the sector that includes amusement parks, though that figure also includes waiters, bartenders, and fitness instructors.

The report also listed massive employment losses in health care (1.4 million), manufacturing (1.3 million) and clothing retail (740,000).

In total, 23.1 million people are now unemployed, according to the bureau. Of those, 18.1 million are on a “temporary layoff.” An additional 6.6 million people left the labor force in April, meaning they are unemployed but not actively seeking work, and are therefore not reflected in the unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate was 3.5% in February, before the virus hit.