All three of the major U.S. stock indexes fell on Friday following the March U.S. jobs report showed a more significant than expected decline in the non-farm payrolls.
While the U.S. job number was worse than expected, it completely understates the number of job losses experienced in the U.S. in the last 2-weeks.
Given that the report only includes data through March 14, missing two weeks in which 10 million Americans filed for unemployment, many had thought the report wouldn’t be so bad.
The U.S. Labor Department reported on Friday that U.S. non-farm payrolls decreased by -701,000 jobs in March.
The payrolls decline was the most significant monthly decline since March 2009, the worst month for job losses during the last recession.
The unemployment rate for March crushed the 3.8% forecast and climbed to 4.4% from 3.5% in February, the most substantial one-month increase in the rate since January 1975.
At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell -360.91 points or -1.69%, to 21,052.53, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 tumbled -38.25 points, or -1.51%, to 2,488.65 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped -114.23 points, or -1.53%, to 7,373.08.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department said a record 6.648 million people filed for unemployment benefits the week of March 27. That’s more than double the previous week’s total of 3.28 million.
The numbers weren’t necessarily a surprise, but a reminder of just how hard and fast the coronavirus disruption is hitting American workers.
In just the past two weeks alone, new claims have easily exceeded the peak number of people who collected benefits during the 2007-09 recession.
At the end of the last recession, 6.6 million people drew benefits, a record at that time.
With this in mind, this Thursday’s initial jobless claims report will again be a closely watched print, with consensus economists expecting to see 5 million new unemployment claims filed for the week ended April 4.