US lost 700,000 jobs in March as COVID-19 pandemic whacks economy
President Donald Trump giving a coronavirus briefing (screengrab)

The American economy lost 700,000 jobs last month as the coronavirus pandemic forced widespread economic shutdowns and almost certainly pushed the economy into recession.

"In March, employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000," the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. "Most of the decline occurred in food services and drinking places (-417,000); this employment decline nearly offset gains over the previous 2 years."

Although the unemployment rate in the month ticked up to still-low 4.4 percent, it is likely that the jobs report doesn't capture the full damage that the pandemic has been done to the economy.

More than 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in just the past two weeks, which has shattered records for the most jobless claims filed over a two-week period.

"This jobs report was very bad," commented Bloomberg Businessweek editor Joe Weisenthal. "And everyone knows that's just the tip of the iceberg."