Job Losses in 2020 Were Worst Since 1939, With Hispanics, Blacks, Teenagers Among Hardest Hit

December capped the worst year for U.S. job losses in records tracing back to 1939, with Hispanics, Blacks, teenagers and high-school dropouts hit particularly hard.

In 2020, the economy shed a net 9.37 million jobs, exceeding the 5.05 million jobs lost in 2009, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Hardest hit last year were hotels, restaurants and related industries, driving up unemployment among minorities, the young and less educated workers—groups already disproportionately hit by the economic effects of the coronavirus.

Unemployment rates among those groups shot up in April, after the pandemic hit, and then started to decline. Then, cold December weather triggered another big increase in joblessness.

December’s 140,000 drop in payrolls was the first since April. But unlike in April, December’s job losses were concentrated in the leisure and hospitality industries, said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at job site ZipRecruiter.

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