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US economy shed 701,000 jobs in March, first decline in decade

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-04-03 20:42

A man checks a website to apply for unemployment benefits outside of the Workforce Solutions for South Texas offices in Laredo, Texas, US, March 20, 2020. [Photo /Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US employers cut 701,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate soared to 4.4 percent, showing the first job decline in a decade, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

"The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it," the bureau said.

Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000 in March, mainly in food services and drinking establishments, the report showed. Job losses also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction.

The unemployment rate surged by 0.9 percentage point to 4.4 percent, which is the largest over-the-month increase in the rate since January 1975, the report noted.

The US unemployment rate had been hovering near a historically low level, around 3.5 to 3.6 percent, since September last year.

The bureau also noted that the March survey reference periods predated many coronavirus-related business and school closures that occurred in the second half of the month, indicating a further spike in numbers in the coming months.

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