Statistics Canada said the figure would have been much higher had it included a large number of people who wanted to work but could not job-hunt "presumably due to ongoing business closures and very limited opportunities to find new work".
Minorities were hit particularly hard: African American unemployment spiked to 16.7 percent from 6.7 percent in March, while the rate for Hispanics was 18.9 percent, more than triple last month.
Since mid-March, numerous USA states have rolled out "stay-at-home" policies and shut down nonessential businesses in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, leading companies to cut millions of jobs in weeks.
The number of people filing initial jobless claims for the week ending May 2 was 3,169,000, the Labor Department said in a release (pdf), while the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate surged to a record high of 15.5 percent for the week ending April 25.
"We artificially closed it".
The latest weekly claims data had no impact on the government's April jobs report because it falls outside the period during which the government surveyed establishments and households for its monthly report. Had they been listed properly, the unemployment rate would have been almost five percentage points higher.
More than a decade of job gains were erased in a single month; the stunning job losses are more than double what the USA saw during the 2008 financial crisis.
Considering these factors, Chicago Fed economists Jason Faberman and Aastha Rajan said in a blog earlier this week that the official data for April could vastly understate job destruction from the pandemic.
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Former BLS Commissioner Erica Groshen noted that millions have been laid off or left a job and are not hunting for a new one amid the pandemic, and they might not be defined as unemployed, the Marketplace reported.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump downplayed unprecedented US job losses, saying they were not a surprise.
Echoing the fears of many economists over the fates of small businesses, Biden said, "A lot of them won't open again because they do not have a cushion due to three years of Trump's policies that reward the biggest companies".
The sudden economic contraction has forced millions of Americans to turn to food banks and seek government aid for the first time or stop paying rent and other bills.
EPI senior economist Elise Gould addressed the April jobs report in a Friday blog post entitled "A Waking Nightmare".
"What I can do: I'll bring it back", Trump told Fox News on Friday.
Gould advised against celebrating the supposed "silver lining" that nominal wages grew 7.9% over the year, explaining that the wage growth "reflects the dropping of lower wage jobs from the total, which results in higher average wages for the remaining jobs, and what appears to be faster overall growth, but not driven by people getting meaningful raises".
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has projected that the jobless rate will still be 9.5% by the end of 2021. Many historical recessions were relatively shallow and short, but more recent downturns have tended to take a longer time to return to pre-recession employment peaks.
But 57-year-old Sandra Mahesh, who recently lost her job in Maryland and had her unemployment benefits cut off, is not hopeful.