Mnuchin: Not Reopening Risks Irreversible Economic Damage

The U.S. still hasn’t seen its highest level of unemployment due to the global coronavirus pandemic, but the economy will turn around, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Fox News Sunday on May 10.

The jobless rate could even be as high as 25 percent now, comparable to the Great Depression and, “numbers are probably going to get worse before they get better,” he said.

“This is no fault of American business, this is no fault of American workers, this is a result of a virus,” Mnuchin said.

He added that “we’ll have a better third quarter, we’ll have a better fourth quarter, and next year is going to be a great year.”

The pandemic has already obliterated employment growth since the Great Recession, with some 20 million jobs lost in April. The unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent in April, up from 4.4 percent in March, according to the unemployment report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday (May 8).

“These numbers impact real people. My numbers aren’t rosy, what I said is you’re going to have a very, very bad second quarter,” Mnuchin said.

Mnuchin pointed out that today’s economic crisis was triggered solely by the coronavirus-related government shutdown, not because of previous issues with the economy like the Great Depression.

He warned that if the country doesn’t open soon, there could be “permanent” financial consequences.

“If we do this carefully, working with the governors, I don’t think there’s a considerable risk,” he said. “Matter of fact, I think there’s a considerable risk of not reopening.”

Social distancing and getting people back to work safely will be a factor in reopening plans.  According to Mnuchin, “we’re going to reopen in a very thoughtful way.”

The Friday (May 8) jobs report showed that employment fell sharply in all major industry sectors, but the worst losses were in leisure and hospitality, which lost 7.7 million in April, or 47 percent. Almost 75 percent of the losses — 5.5 million — were in food service and bars.



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