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The April jobs report released Friday morning was easily the worst on record, with U.S. unemployment soaring to the highest level since the Great Depression.
But according to Larry Kudlow, President Trump's chief economic adviser, the worst for the labor market may be yet to come.
"I don't know if it's as bad as it gets," Kudlow told FOX Business' Stuart Varney on Friday. "I don't think this pandemic contraction has yet fully run its course."
U.S. employers cut 20.5 million jobs in April, the Labor Department said Friday, providing the first comprehensive look at the economic catastrophe triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. More than a decade of job gains were erased in a single month; the stunning job losses are more than double what the U.S. saw during the 2008 financial crisis.
The paralyzed U.S. economy, and the tidal wave of layoffs, pushed the unemployment rate — which sat at a half-century low of 3.5 percent in February — to the highest level since record-keeping began in 1948. The previous record was 10.8 percent in late 1982. The number of job losses is also the biggest on record dating back to 1939. Previously, the largest one-month job loss number was 1.96 million in September 1945, at the end of World War II.
"This is a number full of heartbreak and hardship," Kudlow said. "There's no way to get around it."
It's possible the April jobs report, which relied on surveys conducted in the early weeks of the month, did not capture the full extent of the damage inflicted by the outbreak of the virus, which has forced an unprecedented shutdown of the nation's economy.
In the seven weeks since the nation's economy came to a near standstill, more than 33 million Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits, meaning the jobless rate will likely continue to climb in May, even as some states move forward with easing stay-at-home guidelines.
A more inclusive measure of what's called underemployment, which counts those not looking for work and individuals who are reduced to part-time hours for economic reasons, hit an all-time high of 22.8 percent last month.
"I think we are in the reopening stage," Kudlow said. "I think it will phase in in May and probably spill over into June. In the first instance, the economic and jobs number are going to continue to deteriorate."