Coronavirus layoffs in April hit women, minorities the hardest

Women saw the biggest employment decline in the leisure and hospitality sector

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More than 20 million Americans lost their jobs in April, the highest number on record, as the U.S. economy came to a near standstill as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the Labor Department's April jobs report, released Friday morning, revealed that job losses were even more pronounced among women and minorities.

Unemployment for women spiked to 16.2 percent from 3.4 percent as recently in February, while men saw their jobless rate surge to 13.5 percent from 3.6 percent in February. In a one-month span, women lost roughly 1.5 million more jobs than their male counterparts. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK DEVASTATED THESE INDUSTRIES IN APRIL

That's likely because women account for a bigger share of the leisure and hospitality workforce -- the sector hit hardest by the virus pandemic. The industry eliminated more than 7.6 million workers in April -- with nearly 5.5 million stemming from food services and drinking places.

Women saw the biggest employment decline in that sector, the data shows, although they were also hit in the education and health services.

"It’s hard to imagine an industry losing more than half its workforce in a single month, and it wasn’t the only one to do so," said Jeoff Hall, a managing economist at Refinitiv. "It’s also hard to imagine these jobs springing back in May or June."

CORONAVIRUS LAYOFFS HURTING LOW-INCOME WORKERS THE MOST, STUDY FINDS

There were also disparities in unemployment rates between races: The rate was 14.2 percent for white workers; 16.7 percent for black workers; 18.9 percent for Latino workers; and 14.5 percent of Asian Americans -- record rates for all groups, except African Americans.

The divide is even starker when extrapolated for education. For instance, unemployment surged to 21.2 percent among those without a high school diploma from 5.7 percent in February. But for those with a bachelor's degree or higher, the unemployment rate rose nearly six percentage points between February and April, jumping from 2.5 percent to 8.4 percent.

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