The U.S. economy suffered its biggest labor market shock on record last month, as government figures released Friday showed the COVID-19 pandemic erased 20.5 million jobs and sent the nation’s unemployment rate to 14.7%, the highest since at least the 1940s.

As recently as February, the United States had enjoyed record economic expansion and the lowest unemployment in half a century, 3.5%. Not only is that gone, but more bad news is almost certain in the weeks and months ahead.

“It’s just staggering,” said Holly Wade, director of research and policy analysis at the National Federation of Independent Business, referring to the economic damage wrought by the pandemic.

The unemployment rate was 4.4% in March and there were 870,000 job losses that month, according to revised figures that

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