On Friday, March 6, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a blockbuster jobs report for February, 2020. Three days later, the Dow fell 7.79% as panic about the spread of coronavirus ushered in the start of the 2020 stock market crash and recession.
The March jobs report due for release on Friday, April 3 will be similarly outdated by the time it arrives. With a tsunami of job losses moving across the country as lockdowns and social distancing shut down much of the economy, monthly indicators are of limited use.
The March jobs report will capture the results of business and household surveys conducted between March 9 and March 13. The next week, 3.28 million newly unemployed Americans filed for unemployment insurance and perhaps twice as many lost their jobs. And the pace of job cuts likely accelerated the week after that.
So a report showing modest declines in payroll employment and labor force participation and a modest uptick in the unemployment rate in March will capture only a fraction of the pandemic’s impact on the U.S. labor market.