WASHINGTON

The U.S. economy lost a total of 701,000 jobs in the month of March amid layoffs and business closures prompted by the novel coronavirus, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment rose to 4.4% from 3.5% in February, the largest month-on-month increase since January 1975.

The huge jump in unemployment was fueled by major hits in the leisure and hospitality sectors of the economy with nearly 460,000 jobs lost in those sectors alone, according to the bureau’s statistics.

Other sectors that took major hits include health care and social assistance, professional and business services,

Read more: US economy sheds 701K jobs as coronavirus takes toll