US sheds 701,000 jobs, ending a record-long hiring streak

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Visitors to the Department of Labor are turned away at the door by personnel due to closures over coronavirus concerns, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in New York. Applications for jobless benefits are surging in some states as coronavirus concerns shake the U.S. economy. The sharp increase comes as governments have ordered millions of workers, students and shoppers to stay home as a precaution against spreading the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A record-long streak of U.S. job growth ended suddenly in March after nearly a decade as employers cut 701,000 jobs because of the viral outbreak that’s all but shut down the U.S. economy.

The unemployment rate jumped to 4.4% from a 50-year low of 3.5%. Last month’s actual job loss was likely even larger because the government surveyed employers before the heaviest layoffs hit in the past two week.

Nearly 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks of March, far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record.

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