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Economy loses 701,000 jobs in March as virus spreads


The U.S. lost 701,000 jobs in March, breaking a remarkable string of uninterrupted payrolls gains the past decade and revealing just the leading edge of the coronavirus-triggered hurricane that’s upending America’s economy and labor market.

The unemployment rate jumped to 4.4% from a 50-year low of 3.5%, the Labor Department said Friday.

The report reflects employers’ jitters early in the month over the unprecedented economic fallout from the pandemic. But it doesn’t capture the nearly 10 million laid-off and furloughed Americans who filed initial jobless claims the past two weeks as much of the nation’s economy was shut down to contain the spread of the virus.

That’s because Labor’s survey was conducted the week ending March 14, before most states ordered residents to stay at home and nonessential businesses — such as restaurants, movie theaters and most stores — to close.



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