US unemployment rate rises to record level

The unemployment rate in the US has risen to 14.7%, with 20.5 million jobs lost in April, as the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on the economy.

The steep climb means the jobless rate is now worse than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In the wake of the pandemic, the US has suffered its worst growth numbers since the recession of 2008, triggered by flat retain sales.

The devastation comes barely two months after the unemployment rate was at 3.5%, a 50-year low.

The report from the Labor Department showed declines in every sector of the economy, with Leisure and hospitality the hardest-hit as payrolls fell by 7.7 million or 47%.

Employers in education and health services cut 2.5 million positions, while retailers shed 2.1 million.

In an appearance on the Fox News channel, US President Donald Trump shrugged off the 20.5 million jobs lost in the US as “totally expected” and “no surprise”.

“Even the Democrats aren’t blaming me for that. What I can do is I can bring it back,” he said as the figures were released.

While some states have already started to relax restrictions, re-starting the economy is likely to be difficult, as workers worry about the risk of infection and grapple with the impact of school closures.

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