More than 20.2 million US private sector jobs were destroyed in April, payrolls firm ADP said Wednesday, but that number almost certainly underestimates the damage from efforts to contain the coronavirus.
More than 16 million jobs were eliminated in the services sector, half of those in leisure and hospitality.
However, the data only reflect company payrolls through April 12 so the report "does not reflect the full impact of COVID-19 on the overall employment situation."
The ADP data are seen as an indicator of the all-important government jobs report due out Friday, which economists expect to show 28 million jobs lost in the month due to the widespread business shutdowns to contain the virus.
"Job losses of this scale are unprecedented. The total number of job losses for the month of April alone was more than double the total jobs lost during the Great Recession," said Ahu Yildirmaz, co-head of the ADP Research Institute.
Goods producing firms shed 4.2 million jobs, more than half from construction and 1.7 million from manufacturing, the report said, with the damage shared across firms of every size.