New York (CNN Business)The coronavirus pandemic wiped out years of job gains for black and Hispanic workers over the span of two months and sent the unemployment rate skyrocketing to record highs for nearly all major worker groups.
The unemployment rate for black Americans soared to 16.7% in April, nearly triple the rate in February and the highest since early 2010, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday. Hispanic workers’ jobless rate hit a record 18.9%, up from 4.4% two months earlier.
Before the outbreak hit, black and Hispanic unemployment rates had fallen to record lows.
Now, black and Hispanic workers are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus-spurred job losses, particularly because they are more likely to be in lower-wage jobs and less likely to be able to work from home.
“This recession is particularly hard on minorities and women given their representation in the industries that are hardest hit, everything from leisure and hospitality, retail and health care,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton.
White workers saw their unemployment rate jump to a record 14.2%, more than four times higher than February. Asian Americans saw a record 14.5% unemployment rate-—nearly six times greater than it was two months ago.
Adult women’s unemployment rate quintupled in April to 15.5%, while the rate for adult men nearly tripled to 13%. And the teen unemployment rate more than tripled between February and April to nearly 32%. All three were record highs.
The pandemic has devastated the American jobs landscape. Most major industries shed millions of positions.
Nearly half of restaurant and hospitality workers lost their jobs last month as the coronavirus sparked sweeping closures and curtailments of eating and drinking establishments and hotels.
Employment in leisure and hospitality plummeted by 7.7 million, or 47%. Nearly three-quarters of the decline took place in food services and drinking places, but jobs were also lost in arts, entertainment, recreation and accommodation.
Retailers shed 2.1 million positions. Especially hard-hit were clothing and accessories stores, which lost 740,000 jobs.
Health care was not immune to the destruction, even as the pandemic drove many ill Americans to seek care at hospitals. The sector lost 1.4 million jobs, particularly in dentist and doctor offices — whose patients stayed home amid fears of catching or spreading the coronavirus. More than 500,000 dental jobs vanished last month.
Some 97% of dental offices nationwide were closed for routine care in late April, and 87% reduced some or all of their staffs, said Marko Vujicic, chief economist at the American Dental Association. Many are now reopening, but patient volume is only a little more than a quarter of what it was before the pandemic.
Professional and business services shed 2.1 million jobs, with temporary help services getting hit hard. And manufacturing employment dropped by 1.3 million.
One bright spot: Warehouse clubs and supercenters gained 93,000 jobs.
Although states are beginning to reopen, economists say it will take time for businesses to resume operations -— and some may never return.
“The reality is you need to have an economy that’s strong enough to bring them back,” Swonk said. “In a world where it’s very difficult, there is no ‘Field of Dreams’ moment where you build it or open it and they will come.”
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