A U.S. Federal Reserve official said Sunday that the worst is yet to come on the job front after U.S. employers cut a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I mean the worst is yet to come on the job front, unfortunately. And that it really is going to be, you know, as these states start to reopen and as businesses start to reopen, obviously we need them to reopen safely," Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, told ABC's "This Week."
"We may be in an environment of gradual relaxing and then having to clamp back down again around the country as the virus continues to spread," he said. "To solve the economy, we must solve the virus. Let's never lose sight of that fact."
"What I've learned in the last few months, unfortunately, this is more likely to be a slow, more gradual recovery," Kashkari said, throwing cold water on White House officials' optimistic expectation about a very strong second half of 2020 and a roaring 2021.
"When we look around the world, there's evidence that when countries relax their economic controls, the virus tends to flare back up again. And the longer this goes on, unfortunately, the more gradual the recovery is likely to be," he said.
The Fed official noted that a "robust economy" would require a breakthrough in vaccines, widespread testing and therapies to give people confidence that it is safe to go back. "I don't know when we're going to have that confidence," he said.
Kashkari's remarks came after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News earlier Sunday that the unemployment numbers are probably "going to get worse before they get better," acknowledging that the current jobless rate may have already hit 25 percent. Enditem