Economy May 25

White House economist sees double-digit jobless rate at US elections

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

by AFP
White House economist sees double-digit jobless rate at US elections
People wearing protective masks are seen in Central Park in New York during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. A White House economist expects unemployment to remain high till late in the year. Photo: Brazil Photo Press/ AFP

US unemployment is likely to remain in double digits as Americans go to the polls in November, a top White House economic adviser said on Sunday.

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 Labor statistics released on Thursday. 

Hassett, chairman of the council of economic advisers, warned on Friday that the unemployment rate, which hit 14.7% in April, may rise to 22 to 23% 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