White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Sunday said the U.S. unemployment rate could be north of 20% in May and still be in double digits in November even as business activity is slowly resuming amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s going to be quite a bit higher,” Mr. Hassett said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It could be if they fixed the thing they mischaracterized last time that you’ll end up with a number north of 20% in May.”
The April unemployment rate was 14.7% and close to 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic took hold and wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy.
“I think we’re very, very close to an inflection point in terms of business activity and probably about a month away in terms of employment,” Mr. Hassett said.
But Mr. Hassett also said the unemployment rate could still be in double digits in November.
“Yes, unemployment will be something that moves back slower,” he said. “I think it could be better than that. But you’re going to be starting at a number in the 20s and working your way down. And so of course you could still not be back to full employment by September or October.”
After months of historic lows, the U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 4.4% in March before spiking in April as the economic fallout from coronavirus-related lockdowns took hold.