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ACEC News / Industry Statistics

May 11, 2020

ACEC Macro-Economic Update: Unemployment Rate Soars | Rent Payments Stabilize

By Erin McLaughlin

April Unemployment Rate Sets Record Surge

The unemployment rate rose to a record 14.7 percent in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). An unprecedented 20.5 million jobs were lost in April—the first full month of the economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This month-over-month unemployment rate surge is the largest since the BLS began tracking the unemployment rate in 1939.

The hardest-hit occupations were those most impacted by mandated closures and social distancing measures. Leisure and hospitality jobs declined by 7.7 million (5.5 million of these were in food and drinking establishments, according to BLS), and both the retail and professional/business services sectors each lost 2.1 million jobs.

No sector was untouched, with healthcare employment falling by 1.4 million jobs—with about a third of those coming from dentists’ offices, and another third from physicians’ offices—as routine health care appointments and procedures have largely stopped during the pandemic.

May Rent Payments Show Only Slight Decline Year-over-Year

One key data point tracked closely by analysts in the commercial real estate sector, which includes multi-family residential, is whether tenants are paying rent. As of Wednesday, May 6, 80.2 percent of apartment households had paid all or some of their rent for the month, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) monthly survey.

This May 2020 data point represents a 1.5 percent drop from May 2019 but is an improvement from the 78 percent of market-rate renters who had paid by April 6, 2020.

Analysts attributed this minor drop in year-over-year rent payments—and the slight rise from the same time last month—to federal stimulus checks and unemployment assistance reaching renters.

Erin McLaughlin is ACEC Vice President Private Market Programs.


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