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Weekly economic review & outlook Sobering job losses for U.S. workers

May 11, 2020

You Need to Know

Week in review

The worst month for job losses in U.S. history

Nonfarm payrolls dropped by a record 20.5 million during April, while the unemployment rate spiked to the highest level since 1940.

The service sector pulled back sharply, too

The ISM nonmanufacturing index contracted sharply in April as the new orders, business activity, and employment readings all plummeted.

Week Ahead


Consumer prices should fall again, helped by collapsing energy prices

As in March, the consumer price index is expected to fall after a historic drop in oil prices in April. Core CPI should grow, but only slightly.

Retail sales set for another large decline

Retail sales are set for another sharp decline in April, led by large drops in light vehicle sales and gasoline prices.

Job losses were record-breaking for April as nonfarm payroll employment plummeted by 20.5 million. While all major job categories saw declines, the service sector was hit the hardest — led by a plunge of 46.7 percent in both recreation and food service jobs. The payroll survey goes back to 1939, and the previous largest monthly decline was in 1945 as World War II was ending — but that drop of almost two million pales in comparison with April’s figure.