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Coronavirus: US loses 701,000 jobs amid virus lockdown

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Media captionCoronavirus: Millions of Americans unemployed

A decade of jobs growth in the US came to an abrupt halt in March as employers shed 701,000 jobs amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.4%, according to new data from the US Department of Labor.

The leisure and hospitality industries accounted for more than half the cuts.

The losses – greater than expected – could be even worse since the data was collected early in the month.

Since then, cases of coronavirus have jumped to more than 245,000 and a majority of states have put lockdown measures in place, forcing most businesses to close.

State filings show about 10 million people have registered for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks – record figures that far eclipse previous highs.

Economists expect the unemployment rate to rise into the double digits in coming months.

The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday predicted an elevated 9% rate could linger to the end of 2021.

The jump in the unemployment rate from 3.5% in February to 4.4% in March is the largest over the month increase since 1975.

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