Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shed 701,000 jobs in March, ending a decade-long stretch of job gains, according to government data gathered before many states instituted economy-shutting measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The big picture: It's a way bigger job loss than economists expected the report to pick up — and it still understates the unprecedented turmoil that the job market is currently facing.

  • The unemployment rate jumped to 4.4% from 3.5% — the biggest monthly increase since January 1975.

Between the lines: The economic situation has changed so drastically in recent weeks that what's typically one of the most significant economic reports is too stale to say anything new about the economy.

  • Economists estimate the unemployment rate is currently far higher, given the nearly 10 million Americans that have filed jobless claims in recent weeks.

A staggering stat: Job losses in the leisure and hospitality sector — a category that includes restaurants and bars — alone accounted for 65% of the job declines last month.

The bottom line: "We already know that the fall in employment is apocalyptic. The survey data will eventually catch up to that reality," Diane Swonk, economist at Grant Thornton, wrote this week.

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