U.S. companies shed 27,000 jobs in March, according to a private survey, a figure that mostly reflected the economy as it stood before the full impact of the viral outbreak.
Payroll processor ADP said small businesses took the biggest hit, losing 90,000 jobs, while medium-sized and large companies still added workers. Economists forecast that much larger job losses, probably in the millions, will be reported in the coming months.
March’s figures are the first monthly job loss reported by ADP since Hurricanes Harvey and Irma slammed Texas and much of the southeast in September 2017.
ADP said that the figures were compiled from the week ending March 14, when the number of people seeking unemployment benefits was still largely in check.
The following week, unemployment claims exploded, soaring to 3.3 million, five times the previous record high.
Most of the job losses in the March ADP report were concentrated in a category that includes retail, which cut 37,000 jobs, and in construction, which shed 16,000. Hotels, restaurants and casinos lost 11,000 jobs.
Health care providers were still hiring, adding 44,000 jobs.