The U.S. unemployment rate climbed from 4.4% in March to a staggering 14.7% in April—the highest since 1940.

The jobs report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday showed that the number of unemployed Americans rose from 7.1 million in March to 23.1 million in April. These dismal payroll figures come just two months after the U.S. had been sitting, in February, at a 50-year low in the unemployment rate of 3.5%.

The 14.7% figure is actually lower than many expected. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett had predicted the unemployment rate for April could come in at between 16% to 20%.

But this official unemployment rate undercounts the actual level of joblessness. The BLS defines the unemployed as people without jobs who are also looking for new positions. The current U.S. labor market is far more complicated than that. A Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll of 4,717 U.S. adults between April. 25-28 finds that 17% of workers who recently lost their jobs aren’t currently looking for work. Given the nature of the virus and the stay-at-home orders, some laid-off workers may be waiting it out before starting their job search.

“If everyone who filed unemployment insurance …

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A World Health Organization scientist said Covid-19 comes from bats and can spread among cats amid an international debate about the virus’s origin.

The novel coronavirus comes from a group of viruses that originate or spread in bats, and it’s still unclear what animal may have transmitted the disease to humans, Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO expert in “zoonotic” animal diseases, which jump to humans, said Friday in a briefing with reporters.

The virus probably arrived in humans through contact with animals raised to supply food, though scientists have yet to determine which species, he said. Studies have shown that cats and ferrets are susceptible to Covid-19, and dogs to a lesser extent, he said, adding that it’s important to find out which animals can get infected to avoid creating a “reservoir” in another species.

Questions about the origin of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that has caused the pandemic, have burned hotter since U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that it came from a lab in China. Scientists who have studied the issue maintain that the virus originated in an animal, and probably entered the human population in November.

New Mission

WHO scientists are considering a new mission to China to get …

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Happy Friday, everyone. All eyes will be on the big jobs report today. It will be bad. Historically bad. But not so bad as to spoil the global rally in equities.

If you see a perverse disconnect between the roaring stock markets and a tanking global economy, you’re not alone.

Let’s check in on the action.

Markets update


  • The major indices are all in the green this morning with Japan’s Nikkei leading the way higher, up 2.5% in afternoon trade. Hong Kong and Shanghai were up nearly 1%.
  • There’s a potential thaw in U.S.-China trade tensions as both sides announced some progress in implementing the bilateral trade deal signed in January.
  • Here’s a contender for today’s depressing coronavirus headline: a Chinese study finds that 5-15% of infected COVID-19 patients may have tested positive a second time.


  • The European bourses climbed out of the gates. The bluechip Stoxx Europe 50 was up 0.7% at the open.
  • London’s FTSE is closed for the Bank Holiday.
  • Siemens this morning scrapped its 2020 guidance

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Good morning.

I’ve heard from numerous CEOs who say they expect a substantial proportion of their staff to continue to work from home, at least part time, once the pandemic passes. And why not? Now that we’ve learned the habit of video conferencing, it’s an opportunity to save both commute time and high-priced office rent.

But there’s a dark side to the work-from-home story that isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Speaking yesterday with a group of CEOs assembled virtually by Fortune, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff said 36% of his employees have reported having mental health issues during the lockdown. That’s a stunning statistic. Later in the day, Synchrony CEO Margaret Keane made a similar comment to a separate virtual group of executives, assembled by Fortune and McKinsey. “We’ve seen an increase in the number of calls” on mental health issues, she said. “It is something we have to be very focused on.”

Some of the problem is anxiety provoked by the pandemic. Some is the burden of caring for children out of school and elderly, vulnerable parents, often at the …

Life for thousands of Salesforce employees won’t be the same after they return to the office following months of working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff explained on Thursday during a Fortune CEOI video call about how the business software giant has been navigating the uncertain times, describing the crisis as “unlike anything I’ve ever been through.”

“This is my first pandemic Alan, so I don’t know if I have the right answers,” Benioff told Fortune CEO Alan Murray, who was moderating the event. 

Benioff said that 50 of the company’s 50,000 employees had contracted the coronavirus. Like other tech companies including Amazon and Microsoft, Salesforce urged its employees to work from home in early March, just before shelter-in-place rules started spreading across the country.

General anxiety about the coronavirus coupled with the isolation of being alone at home took an emotional toll on Salesforce’s workforce, with 36% saying they were experiencing mental health issues, Benioff said. The company now does daily mental health check-ins and calls with employees to gauge employee well-being, he explained.

Benioff cautioned that while Salesforce and other companies are starting to take steps “to get business happening” like it was …