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More than 20 million Americans lost their jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday, essentially erasing all of the job gains in the decade since the 2008 financial crisis. That was the steepest loss on record since 1939, easily topping the previous one-month drop of 1.96 million in September 1945, at the end of World War II.
The private sector accounted for the bulk of job losses, shedding more than 19.5 million workers last month.
The leisure and hospitality sector saw the biggest plunge, as expected, accounting for more than one-third of total losses as restaurants, bars, hotels, movie theaters and entertainment venues were forced to close to protect public health. The industry eliminated more than 7.6 million workers in April -- with nearly 5.5 million stemming from food services and drinking places.
The overall unemployment rate for service occupations skyrocketed from 4 percent in March to 27.1 percent last month, stunning evidence of the pandemic's stranglehold on the industry.
"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."
Still, no industry was immune to the coronavirus-induced downturn. Behind the leisure and hospitality sector
Retail lost 2.1 million jobs, and professional and business services lost more than 2.1 million workers last month.
Manufacturing and other services dropped by 1.1 million each. Government jobs also decreased by 980,000, while transportation and warehousing dropped by 584,000.
Health care saw a decline of more than 1.4 million, with hospitals making up about 134,900 of those losses and dentist offices accounting for 503,000. Employment in the social assistance sector plummeted by 650,000.