WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy, the world’s largest, is plummeting fast in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, with a new report showing American companies cut 20.2 million jobs from their payrolls in April.
The ADP Research Institute said Wednesday the April job losses were the worst in the 18 years it has tracked the economy and were double the previous monthly low point set in February 2009, during the Great Recession.
ADP said small, mid-sized and large companies all slashed millions of jobs.
Moreover, the overall losses for the month were likely much higher since ADP’s monthly tabulation ended on April 12, in keeping with the reporting schedule maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Already, 30.3 million workers have filed for unemployment compensation since the pandemic enveloped the U.S, forcing a vast shutdown of the country’s commerce that only now is beginning to reopen.
Millions more laid-off workers have filed for the jobless pay in each of the last six weeks, an amount that varies in each of the 50 states, but typically totals less than half of what workers are normally paid.
To augment those stipends, the U.S. government is paying unemployed workers $600 a week more over the next four months.
The U.S. has recorded more than 71,000 deaths, easily the biggest total in any country across the globe, and counted 1.2 million confirmed cases, a third of the world total.
The U.S. economy plunged 4.8% in the January-to-March period. The effect of the pandemic only began to register in the U.S. in the latter half of March.
U.S. household spending dropped 7.6% in the first quarter and business investment fell 8.6%, figures that were likely deceptively small.
New unemployment compensation figures are being released on Thursday, with the government set to disclose the state of the overall economy for April on Friday.
Some economists are predicting it will show a 15- to 20% decline in the country’s domestic production of goods and services from March, possibly much more.
Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank, has warned that the second quarter economic data from April to June, will show a devastating picture.
President Donald Trump is pushing to reopen businesses as quickly as possible, while acknowledging that the death toll will also increase as people come in closer contact with each other in the workplace. Some coronavirus statistical researchers are projecting a U.S. death toll of 134,000 by August.
But Trump said Tuesday, "The people of our country are warriors. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open."
He acknowledged, “There'll be more death.”