As businesses closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, many suddenly laid off and furloughed millions of employees. Layoffs were so severe, they nearly wiped out 10 years of job gains in just two months, and the official U.S. unemployment rate surged to 14.7% in April.

That marks the highest unemployment rate since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the monthly data in 1948, and it’s on par with BLS estimates of unemployment levels during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Despite the already high numbers, millions of jobless Americans are not counted in that figure.

Workers are only counted as “unemployed” if they were out of work and searched for a job in the last four weeks, orr if they were temporary laid off.


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Many people who lost their jobs did not immediately begin job hunting, because many statewide shut down orders closed all but essential businesses. Those people who decided to hold off on their job search are not counted in the unemployment number.

According to CNN, the April unemployment rate doesn’t include: 6.9 million people who want a job but haven’t searched in the last 12 months; 10.9 million people who worked part-time “for economic reasons” (including those who had their hours reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic); and 2.3 million people who were “marginally attached” to the work force – meaning they ooked for a job in last year but not in the last four weeks.

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