Washington, Jan 8 (AFP/APP): The United States lost 140,000 jobs in December as the worsening coronavirus pandemic undermined the economy’s recovery and caused the first loss in employment since April.
The downbeat report released by the Labor Department on Friday confirmed that months of steady gains in hiring were brought to a halt by the recent surge in infections, which saw the one-day death toll reach 4,000 and states scramble to reimpose restrictions on businesses to again bring the virus under control.
“The decline in payroll employment reflects the recent increase in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases and efforts to contain the pandemic,” the report said.
The result was far worse than the modest gain economists forecast, but some analysts had warned the decline was coming.
“The current COVID-19 wave has stopped the recovery in its tracks,” Navy Federal Credit Union economist Robert Frick said.
Until the pandemic is brought under control and vaccine rollout speeds up, “people will not be rushing back to bars and restaurants any time soon,” he said. While the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7 percent, 10.7 million people remain unemployed — both figures about double the pre-pandemic levels.
Particularly hard hit was the leisure and hospitality sector, which lost 498,000 jobs in December, according to the government.
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