U.S. Jobs: April's Staggering Unemployment Numbers
Something about the current unemployment situation calls to mind the lyrics of the Johnny Cash song "Ring of Fire." As unemployment has risen to levels not recorded since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking employment statistics in January 1948, we seem to be spiraling downward into an excoriating ring of job losses upon job losses.
And that's with the total unemployment count at the time of the report coming in at just 23.1 million. More recent estimates put the actual total of sidelined workers, as I write this blog post, somewhere between 26 and 30 million.
In other words, if at the cutoff point for the latest report unemployment was at 14.7 percent, then that means it has now risen to between 16.5 and 19.1 percent, based on further unemployment filing numbers announced yesterday.
A Grim, Long List of Jobs Lost
I'm frankly at a bit of loss to even process what we're now seeing. Here's a list of total jobs lost in the various categories tracked by the BLS:
Leisure and hospitality: 7.7 million
Education and health services: 2.5 million
Professional and business services: 2.1 million
Retail trade: 2.1 million
Manufacturing: 1.3 million
Other services: 1.3 million
Government: 0.98 million
Construction: 0.975 million
Transportation and warehousing: 0.584 million
Wholesale trade: 0.363 million
Financial activities: 0.262 million
Information: 0.254 million
Mining: 46,000 (This has been a tiny employment sector for two decades or longer.)
You can click here to see some truly eye-catching graphical representations of the current situation from the team at NPR. The lead graph in this article is particularly breathtaking. There's another excellent graph here with click-and-drag functionality.
Outside of mining (which, IMHO, is entirely predictable because it's such a small sector anyway), our home sector of information shows the smallest total losses at slightly more than 250,000 total jobs lost. To put things in perspective that pretty much wipes out total job gains in the tech industry since the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
In the grand scheme of things, we should be grateful that the situation isn't worse. IT skills, it would seem, are still highly employable.
Where to Next? We'll Soon Find Out ...
All I can say for now is, "Wow!" Just like Johnny sang it, we are definitely going "down, down, down" and so far all that's happened is the flames have gotten higher. The sad, hard truth is that things almost can't help but get worse before they can get better. Hang in there, dear readers, and buckle down.
If this were a roller coaster, we'd be screaming like mad as it freight trains into a massive dive. We're on pace to suprass the highest percentage of unemployed workers recorded even at the peak of the Great Depression, and we aren't even close to the end of the ride — the pandemic that triggered this devastation is far from contained.
It's definitely time to recall a mantra from this very blog that I found myself repeating during those far less scary days of 2008-2012 (at least as seen from today's grim perspective): "Hunker down. Stay put." To these sage words, I can only add "Be safe. Be well. Good luck!"