May 24, 2020 - Economy

Hassett says unemployment rate could still be in double digits by election

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election, but "all the signs of economic recovery are going to be raging everywhere" by that time.

The big picture: Hassett said the unemployment rate next month will be "quite a bit higher" than April's rate of 14.7%, and likely "north of 20%." But he projected that June will be an "inflection point" and the unemployment rate will start to "trend down" after that.

  • Hassett noted that consumer hesitation about returning to public spaces, like stores, restaurants and entertainment events, may slow economic recovery even as shops and venues reopen.
  • “You’re going to be starting at a number in the 20s and working your way down," Hassett said. "So of course, you could still not be back to full employment by September or October.”
  • Peak unemployment during the Great Depression hit 25%, according to the best estimates available.

The bottom line: Last month's jobs report was by far the worst report in U.S. history as the economy shed a record 20.5 million jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hassett cautioned that the worst is likely still to come.

Go deeper: Coronavirus is bringing economic suffering across the U.S.

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