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How each industry is fueling the U.S. unemployment rate in one chart

April 16, 2020, 12:15 AM UTC

We’re living through the largest layoff spree in American history.

In a three-week period through early April, 16.8 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, likely pushing the real unemployment rate to near 15%, the highest level since 1940.

And it’s not just small- and midsize employers. Fortune 500 firms are trying to limit the impact of the coronavirus slowdown on their finances by axing thousands of jobs. Some of the biggest companies to announce sizable job cuts include hospitality companies Marriott and MGM, as well as retailers Under Armour and Sephora. Other corporate titans—companies such as GE Aviation, Disney, and ­Macy’s—are turning to furloughs, with the hope of rehiring talent eventually. “We’ve never been through anything that compares to this,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s ­Analytics. 

A few companies such as ­Instacart, Amazon, and Walmart have announced big hiring pushes. But they are the outliers, as the vast majority of industries are contracting. In the graphic below, Goldman Sachs projects how many points each of these sectors will add to the growing unemployment rate in the U.S.

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