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Pennsylvania jobless rate hits 15.1% as payrolls collapse

A row of signs advertising jobs are posted in front of a Burger King restaurant, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Harmony, Pa. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits in the two months since the coronavirus took hold in the U.S. has swelled to nearly 39 million, the government reported Thursday, even as states from coast to coast gradually reopen their economies and let people go back to work. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

HARRISBURG (AP) — Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate skyrocketed in April at the height of the state’s pandemic-driven shutdown to its highest rate in over four decades of record-keeping, the state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday.

Meanwhile, payrolls fell by more than 1 million to the lowest level in at least three decades.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate more than doubled to 15.1% in April, up from 5.8% in March, the department said. The department had initially said Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 6% in March, but that preliminary figure was adjusted downward to 5.8%.

The national rate was 14.7% in April.

Pennsylvania’s highest unemployment rate was 12.7% in 1983, according to online federal data that keeps track back to 1976. It is a dramatic change from last year when Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate hit a nearly two-decade low of 4.1%.

A separate survey of employers showed seasonally adjusted non-farm payrolls fell by more than 1 million in April to just above 5 million. That’s the lowest recorded payroll figure for Pennsylvania in online federal data that keeps track back to the start of 1990.

Meanwhile, 1.9 million Pennsylvanians have sought unemployment benefits since mid-March, almost one-third of the labor force in April.

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