White House economist sees double digit jobless rate through US elections

People gather at the entrance for the New York State Department of Labor offices, which are closed to the public due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the Brooklyn borough of New York March 20, 2020. ― Reuters pic
People gather at the entrance for the New York State Department of Labor offices, which are closed to the public due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the Brooklyn borough of New York March 20, 2020. ― Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, May 24 — US unemployment is likely to remain in double digits as Americans go to the polls in November, a top White House economic adviser said today.

Kevin Hassett predicted that US economic growth will “skyrocket” in the third quarter but could fall short of a full recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 38.6 million people have lost their jobs since the US economy went into lockdown mode in March to prevent the spread of the virus, according to the latest US Department of Labour statistics released on Thursday. 

Hassett, chairman of the council of economic advisers, warned Friday that the unemployment rate, which hit 14.7 per cent in April, may rise to 22 to 23 per cent in May and edge up a bit in June before falling back down.

Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether it was possible unemployment would be in double digits in November when US presidential elections are held, Hassett replied, “Yes, I do.”

“Unemployment will be something that moves back slower,” he said. “You’re going to be starting at a number in the 20s and working your way down.”

“But I think that all signs of economic recovery are going to be raging everywhere,” Hassett added. “And the only thing we’re going to really be debating as economists is, are we going to get back to where we were or will it be a long haul to get there.” — AFP

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