US unemployment to remain in double digits until November election, White House predicts

'If there were a vaccine in July, then I'd be way more optimistic,' White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says

Griffin Connolly
Washington
Sunday 24 May 2020 15:34
Comments
Joe Biden attacks Trump for playing golf as death toll heads toward 100,000 in new ad

A top economic adviser to Donald Trump has predicted that the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by the 2020 presidential election in November, as the number of unemployed Americans continues to creep upward due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump administration officials expect the unemployment rate to eclipse 20 per cent by the end of May, the highest such figure since the Great Depression, senior White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said in an interview with CNN on Sunday.

"Unemployment will be something that moves back slower," Mr Hassett said.

Mr Hassett said while he expects the unemployment rate to reach an inflection point in the coming weeks and that it could improve more rapidly than current projections, "you're going to be starting at a number in the twenties and working your way down," which will be a slow process.

"If there were a vaccine in July, then I'd be way more optimistic" about getting the unemployment rate back below 10 per cent, Mr Hassett said.

The unemployment rate reached 14.7 per cent in April as businesses continued to shutter over health concerns related to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats do not appear on the same page — or even reading from the same book — for how to proceed legislatively to help stem the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Congress passed roughly $2.7trn over four coronavirus relief bills in the first two months after the health crisis picked up in March. But while House Democrats passed a fifth bill worth north of $3trn earlier this month, Senate Republicans have adopted a wait-and-see approach, dismissing the House bill as a liberal "wish list."

 

Mr Hassett indicated that one of the White House's top priorities with regard to unemployment will be addressing the recent expansion of the unemployment insurance policy, which pays some recently laid off people more than people who are still working.

"There's a lot of Republicans concerned that the benefit makes it so that people get more for not working than for working. And so we look forward to, you know, working with people on potentially reforming that," Mr Hassett said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also made passing liability law reform one of his party's chief concerns in any subsequent coronavirus legislation, arguing that businesses won't want to re-open if it means they could get swamped by lawsuits from patrons who later contracted Covid-19.

"for our team here, the Republican Senate majority, if there’s any red line, it’s on litigation," Mr McConnell told reporters earlier this month.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in